Published Dec 01, 2004Red Lights is living proof that you don't have to have 900 cuts a minute to grip an audience by the spine. Nominally a crime story (and based on a Georges Simenon novel), it's more interested in recording the pathetic behaviour of its drunken, angry lead, whose self-absorption manages to put terrible events into motion.
Antoine (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) is a pointlessly resentful man on a trip to pick up his kids from camp, during which he naturally drinks too much, drives his wife (Carole Bouquet) away and stupidly picks up a quiet stranger who may or may not be an escaped convict; he's supremely pathetic as he petulantly lambastes his wife, wallows in self-pity, and freaks out after waking up to the effects of his pig-headedness.
Director Cedric Kahn does his best not to telegraph his judgements, letting the protagonist do one dim-witted thing after another in an apparent effort to sabotage his life. The style does its best not to interfere in its lead's suicide mission; meaning there's no indication that he'll succeed in undoing the damage he's caused.
Though it's sometimes held back by the dictates of the plot (with an ending that's far too neat), it's an electrifying character study, creepier and more hair-raising than a straight thriller ever could be. (Mongrel Media)