Nathalie, who occupies nearly every frame of Noemie Lvovsky's 1994 first feature, is a sexual drifter in her mid-20s, angry, clueless, and obsessively fearful of loneliness; she feels stifled by her live-in lover, harasses another man who's dumped her, and puts the make on her best friend's boyfriend. Lvovksy uses tight close-ups to convey emotional claustrophobia, and the jittery handheld camera adds to the nervous energy and sense of unpredictability. Her young, disenfranchised characters spend their time drinking, arguing, and chatting aimlessly, yet Lvovsky (who coscripted with Emmanuel Salinger, Marc Cholodenko, and Sophie Fillieres) has a keen ear for the kind of small talk that betrays deep frustration; these are desperate, capricious, unromantic people, but we come to respect their brutal honesty and sympathize with their search for emotional refuge. As Nathalie, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi gives a fierce, seemingly improvised performance; the film dares to portray a woman as a frightful sexual prowler who may have found peace at the end. Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Sunday, December 6, 2:00, and Tuesday, December 8, 9:00, 773-281-4114. --Ted Shen
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.