“Vendredi ou un autre jour” is based on Michel Tournier’s novel “Vendredi ou le limbes du Pacifique”. This adaptation of that story is an unpolished nihilistic variation on the famous Robinson Crusoe story, with a more emphatic role for the character Friday.
The story is set in the eighteenth century where the celebrated French theater actor Philippe de Nohan (Philippe Nahon) is shipwrecked and the only surviving drowning person washed up on a rugged inhospitable island. Thanks to the items that have been rescued from the sunken ship, he manages to survive. With washed up costumes and theater sets, he builds his own French theater in this deserted corner. A curious image full of eloquence.
He is haunted by memories of his mother (Ornella Muti) and of his successes as a theater actor. Fortunately, there is the ship’s dog Tenn to keep him company. Just like in the authentic story, he saves Friday from the cannibals. After long years of total loneliness, he is joined by a person from another civilization. Initially, however, there is no friendship, the Frenchman dominates the relationship between the two of them with a patriarchal hard hand. Colonialism is imitated in miniature on the island. Slowly but surely, the almost hateful relationship begins to cool. Philippe de Nohan sees how easily Friday manages to cope with the poor island. Hatred gives way to admiration and at the same time he realizes more and more how insincere life was behind the facade of the culture he left behind.
The acting performance is phenomenal. The main character is torn by anger and insane frenzy, a role that Phillipe Nahon has been entrusted with for his performance in controversial films such as Seul contre Tous, Irreversible, Haute Tension and Calvaire. Alain Moraïda makes an impressive debut with the role of Vrijdag.
The camera follows Nahon closely, so that the character shift from lonely and furious monarch in his deserted kingdom to a purified and even loving man has a powerful impact. The island is rugged and inaccessible but also contains paradisiacal hidden spots and is thus metaphorical for the psychological development of the castaway. Equipped with a sepia filter, the camera captures all this breathtakingly beautifully. The story has a post-colonial theme, but at a deeper level it is mainly about the thin dividing line between the barbarian and the cultural man.