Red Lights (Feux Rouges)

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The ViewQueenstown Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/09/2004

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Superbly acted, gripping film that works as both an intimate portrait of a disintegrating marriage and as a nail-bitingly tense road-movie-cum-thriller.

Cedric Kahn is one of the most interesting French directors currently at work today – his previous films include L’Ennui and Roberto Succo, both of which were critically acclaimed and became minor arthouse hits. His latest film, Red Lights, is potentially a more commercial prospect and deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible.

Adapted From The Novel

Adapted from the novel by Georges Simenon, the film stars Jean-Pierre Darroussin as Antoine, an insurance clerk married to Helene (Carole Bouquet), a beautiful and successful lawyer. On the hottest day of the year, the bickering couple take a road trip across France in order to pick up their holidaying children.

Already fuelled by alcohol, Antoine makes frequent stops to take a nip or two of whisky and eventually he returns to his car to find that Helene has decided to go on by train. However, when he rushes to the next stop to try and catch her, she is nowhere to be found…

Red Lights is brilliantly acted. Darroussin has an amazing face – he is almost hypnotically unattractive and we immediately sense that he is both resentful of his wife’s success and paranoid because she’s so beautiful.

Indeed, she seems so out of his league that it’s actually a surprise to discover that they’re married during the opening scene, although we never doubt the reality of their relationship. Bouquet is equally good and there’s also strong support from Vincent Deniard as a stranger that Antoine picks up in a bar, who may or may not hold the key to Helene’s disappearance.

Takes Delight In Minute Details

As with Roberto Succo, Red Lights’ strongest scenes take delight in the minute details, such as an extended sequence in which Antoine uses a café telephone in order to work out what has happened. In addition, Kahn creates a slow-burning tension between his two leads so that the film works all the better for starting slowly and developing the fraught atmosphere that pervades their journey.

There are some superb scenes in the film and the excellent script provides moments of dark humour as well as some brilliantly suspenseful sequences. The film isn’t entirely flawless, however - the climax is a little disappointing and some might find the various coincidences a little hard to swallow.

That said, Red Lights is an extremely enjoyable thriller that is well written and impressively acted throughout. Highly recommended.

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Red Lights (Feux Rouges)
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Content updated: 26/05/2019 05:08

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