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Red Lights  [DVD]
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Cedric Khan's tense Hitchcockian thriller stars Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Carole Bouquet as a couple who unwittingly embark on a dangerous and terrifying journey into the night. On the hottest day of the year Antoine and Helene hit the road destined for the south of France. But the oppressive heat and traffic gridlock take their toll on Antoine's frazzled nerves and, as he attempts to cool off with one ice cold beer after another, tensions between the bickering couple are pushed to boiling point. As night draws in Antoine stops off at yet another bar, but returns to the car to find Helene missing. Panic stricken, he embarks on a desperate search, only to find events spiralling beyond his control with horrifying consequences...
Top customer reviews
Darroussin is on screen for virtually the entire movie, and for over half the film Antoine’s problems are unspoken and have to be acted more or less silently, by superb acting Darroussin achieves this as far as is possible, but there is no doubt it is a scenario that cannot fully succeed as a film, it requires the printed page to delve right inside of the characters mind. However in the second half there is a number of twists and dramatic turns building up tension to a conclusion that I found a little unconvincing, a resolution that what would have happened over a period of months, not immediately as written.
The photography is beautifully clean and sharp, and using Debussy’s “Nuage” as background music was an inspiration.
The DVD contains very long interviews with both Darroussin and Bouquet, both of whom are incredibly articulate and intelligent actors, these interviews are a highlight in themselves.
Extras include a trio of in-depth interviews with director and stars, as well as the theatrical trailer.
Antoine and Helene are not getting along well; he's irritated by her demanding job. But they've gotten into the car together to drive to the south of France, there to pick their children up from camp, and then on to Helene's family. Traffic is heavy, as the entire city of Paris heads south "en vacances,"and the atmosphere in the car is increasingly tense. Antoine is drinking heavily, getting drunk and foolish, and stops at one bar too many. He and Helene fight; he orders her to stay in the car, and takes the keys. She says she will take a taxi to the train. When Antoine finally drags himself away from the latest bar, Helene is gone. They will each face a frightening, dangerous, long night alone.
Simenon has been accused by practically every critic of being a misogynist, a charge he always attempted to refute by claiming that he'd slept with 10,000 women: what a defense! But this film and the novel on which it is based certainly seem misogynistic: if only Helene had not been involved in her high-powered job, but had remained barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, reliant on Antoine's income, this ordeal might never have happened to either of them. As is, Antoine gets drunk, and Helene pays for it. However, you'll certainly never get a better view of the French road system, its roadside bars, and the men who drink in them. Antoine keeps running into strange guys in these taverns: Micky Finn plays an Irish rocker spouting philosophy in one. Furthermore, the suspense is screwed tighter and tighter; even on a repeat viewing, I was worried about the couple. Worthy of comparison to Alfred Hitchcock, Anglo-American director of thrillers par excellence (Psycho (Collector's Edition),North By Northwest): worth a look, especially if you're a Simenon fan.
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