Calling a thriller “Hitchcockian” has become such a common film criticism trope that the label scarcely signifies anything anymore (except, I guess, that it’s a good thriller). Cédric Kahn’s Red Lights is the latest recipient of this largely meaningless designation, and while it never approaches the chilling artistry of Vertigo or Rear Window, it’s still a quite intense and unnerving portrait of psychological disintegration and damaged masculinity. Antoine (a frighteningly unhinged Jean-Pierre Darroussin) hates his wife Hélène (Carole Bouquet) for making him feel small and weak, and while traveling by car to pick up their two children at camp, he abandons the traffic-bound highway for a labyrinth of back roads because he feels the need to “get off the rails.” The couple is desperately unhappy, engaging in passive-aggressive conversations that culminate in Antoine – who’s usually prone to chug scotch behind his wife’s back – abruptly stopping at a bar for a drink against his wife’s wishes. When he returns to the car after his nightcap, he finds a note saying that she’s taken the train to get the kids, instigating an odyssey that eventually involves Antoine with a mysterious loner who may be wanted by the authorities. Kahn’s composed direction has a unsettling calmness, and the film’s deft alternation between a classic orchestral score and dead silence imbues Antoine’s nightmarish journey with a sense of ever-present danger. Furthermore, a scene in which Antoine desperately attempts to discover his wife’s fate via the phone – only to confront a series of dead-end leads – stands as one of the most grippingly taut movie moments of the year. While the film’s unexpected ending is a bit too ironic for its own good, Red Lights nonetheless shines.