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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

photo caption:
PHYSICALLY CLOSE TOGETHER, BUT YET SO FAR APART: Helene (Carole Bouquet, left) is reluctantly stuck in the car with her husband Antoine (Jean-Pierre Daroussin) for a long drive to the south of France to pick up their two children from summer camp.
end caption.

"Red Lights" (Feux rouges): Distraught Drunk Looks for Missing Wife in French Thriller

Review by Kam Williams

Insurance adjuster Antoine Dunan (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) is having a hard time hiding his alcoholism from his wife, Helene (Carole Bouquet). She, in turn, can barely conceal her contempt for him or the fact that she'd rather spend more time at work with Herve, another attorney at her law firm.

The emotionally estranged couple is facing the prospect of having to endure each other's company in the close confines of the family car because they are travelling together from Paris to the south of France to pick up their son and daughter from summer camp.

While he is waiting to pick up Helene from her office, Antoine drinks scotch and beer at a cafe across the street. He continues drinking while she is packing her suitcase and at every opportunity there is to stop at a bar while they are on the road.

During the long drive, we see that Antoine is henpecked and has chosen to cope with his spouse's harassment by capitulating to her hectoring except when it comes to drinking and driving. The tension is so great that neither hears a radio alert about an escaped convict from a prison in the area.

When Antoine parks to take yet another break from the nagging, Helene threatens to abandon him in the middle of nowhere, if he so much as enters the bar. He ignores her and takes the car keys with him, just to be safe. When he emerges, his wife has vanished, and the plot thickens.

Has Helene gone ahead to meet with the kids on her own, has she decided to rendezvous with Herve, has she met with foul play, or is there some other explanation for her sudden disappearance? Unfortunately, Red Lights ultimately fails to measure up to its intriguing premise, despite some decent acting and a haunting score taken from the music of Claude Debussy.

The picture is based on the Georges Simenon novel of the same name and was adapted to the screen by Cedric Kahn (L'Ennui). The problem with the production is that, despite its mimicking many of the earmarks of a classic Hitchcock thriller, this film fails to generate suspense.

Without the sense of danger, Red Lights unfolds as a tiresome, tedious misadventure. For all its pretentious atmosphere, the filmamounts to a tiresome story about a remorseful lush looking for his fed-up wife after an explosive argument.

Good (2 stars). Unrated. In French with subtitles. Running time: 106 minutes. Distributor: Wellspring.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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