Driving South to pick up their kids, Antoine (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) - who
might have a drink or 2 too much to be in the driver's seat - & his
wife Hélene have a row ... not only about Antoine bein drunk or having taken a
wrong turn, but about their relationship in general, which has gone wrong in
the last few years. All culminates in Antoine stopping at a roadhouse to have
yet another drink & Hélene getting out of the car to take the train for
the rest of the way.
At first Antoine tries desperately to catch up with the train, but when he
realises his efforts are futile, he makes a stop at another bar & gets
really drunk. Leaving a bar he meets a hitchhiker (Vincent Deniard) &
agrees to give him a lift. The hitchhiker soon realises the state Antoine is in
& tries to keep him from drinking more - without success -, however he is
determined to stay aboard.
Soon Antoine has a little accident & ruins one of his tyres ... however
he's far too drunk to change it, so the hitchhiker does it for him, throws
Antoine in the back & drives on ...
Lieing in the back, Antoine drunkenly tells his companion that he has long
recognized him as an escaped, dangerous criminal (not too clever an idea), but
that he won't give him away to the police ... Soon, the hitchhiker drives the
car into some remote woods, throws Antoine out & prepares to kill him - but
despite his drunkenness, Antoine still has an ace up his sleeve ... his whiskey
bottle, which he breaks to (successfully) defend himslelf & cutting up the
hitchhiker's face. Thinking him dead, Antoine gets into the car & wants to
drive off ... when all of a sudden the hitchhiker appears right in front of his
car and ...
The next morning, Antoine wakes up in his car on the side of a street he
doesn't know, with one flat tyre. & after he has found a mechanic who'll
fix it in a village he has never heard of, he tries to contact his wife ... to
learn she has never arrived at tthe kids' holiday camp, nor at the hotel they
have booked, nor at the town the camp is in at all ... after a gazillion
phonecalls he learns that she was mugged as soon as her train left the station,
& now lies in some hospital. After endless investigations, Antone does find
out her whereabouts & goes to pick her up. But at the hospital, the
inspector (Jean-Pierre God) tells him that she was not only ,ugged but also
raped, by an escaped dangerous criminal (who of course turns out to be the
hitchhiker who hitched a ride with Antoine - but Antoine won't tell the
inspecor that). However, the assailant (the hitchhiker) was found in the woods
somewhere, dead from being repeatedly run over by some car ...
It's only than that Antoine realises that by provoking that little row in
the car he had almost destroyed not only his & Hélene's marriage ... but
them both in general ...
Nice thriller that profits less from an original plot (which it hasn't) but
from a wicked way of stroytelling: it seems as if the story would unfold itself
long before the events actually happen, only to every now & again take a
turn in a totally different direction - it even goes so far as to eventually
make the audience doubt that some of the events depicted (the whole hitchhiker
subplot) have actually happened.