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Red Lights

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					“Red Lights,” (Feux rouges), (2004) is a full-color, 105 minute French
film, a crime drama/mystery/thriller, based on a standalone novel by
Georges Simenon. He was a 20th century author who was Belgian-born, and
undoubtedly the most famous French language master of mysteries: he
created Inspector Maigret of the Paris Judiciare, subject of many films.
This particular movie was directed by Cedric Kahn,(THE FORTY-YEAR OLD
VIRGIN). It stars the handsome Carole Bouquet(THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF
DESIRE) as Helene, high-powered corporate lawyer wife of Antoine, played
by the everyman-looking Jean-Pierre Darroussin, who’s an entirely more
ordinary creature entirely, and works at some job in an insurance
company, as did Simenon’s father.

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
([[ASIN:0783225849 Psycho (Collector's Edition)]], [[ASIN:B002W7J3SO
North By Northwest]]): worth a look, especially if you're a Simenon fan.

				
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posted:10/21/2011
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