Actually, Tell everyone about this mature thriller

Tell No One (Ne le dit a personne)

on July 03, 2008 by John P. McCarthy
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Invoking the name of suspense master Alfred Hitchcock (pro or con) when writing about a film is so commonplace readers probably ignore it. But in reference to the French thriller Tell No One, the comparison is warranted and decidedly positive. Adapted from a 2003 crime novel of the same title by Harlan Coben, this Cesar and Lumiere Award-winning movie has just about everything a fan of mature thrillers could want. Those pesky subtitles are the only impediment to its commercial success stateside. Don’t be surprised if an English-language version gets made in the next few years.

Not to be ageist, but Tell No One is the kind of intricate movie where the senior citizens two rows back will be loudly whispering to one another in an effort to stay abreast of the story. Ignore the distraction. It’s a good sign that they’ll care enough to try to keep up; and everyone, regardless of their age or level of French comprehension, must pay close attention and will be motivated to do so. There’s a spot of artistic nudity at the beginning to get the pulse going, followed by murder, lyrical romanticism, a terrific chase sequence and an intriguing crime puzzle that entails family dynamics and cuts across high and low social strata. Taking advantage of a superb acting ensemble—with no weak links or showy performances—writer/director Guillaume Canet renders the emotion and suspense believable. Until near the very end, he refrains from revealing too much in any one scene or moment.

Pediatrician Alexandre (Dustin Hoffman look-alike Francois Cluzet) and his wife Margot (Marie-Josee Croze)—are attacked while swimming at the country lake where they became childhood sweethearts. She dies, and although he’s in a coma for four days, the police suspect him before concluding they were victims of a serial killer. Eight years later in Paris, Alex hasn’t gotten over his loss or attempted to move on. On the anniversary of her death, he receives a cryptic email instructing him to follow a link to a video feed and warning, “Tell no one. They are watching.” When he logs on at the appointed time, he sees a woman emerging from a subway station. Is it Margot? Can she be alive? If so, there’s much to explain, and the ensuing twists and feints involve the equestrian milieu that his sister (Marina Hands) is part of, Margot’s cop father, plus a band of unsavory criminals who frame Alex for another murder, forcing him to go on the lam. Two detectives investigate and reopen the old case, the senior gumshoe underplayed nicely by Francois Berleand. Kristin Scott Thomas portrays Alex’s only confidante, his sister’s lover.

At various intervals corresponding to Alex’s mourning and the possibility he may be reunited with his beloved, pop songs such as U2’s “With or Without You” are heard. Alex is a worthy, sympathetic protagonist who thinks well on his feet. I only wish we could experience more of what transpires from his perspective, get deeper inside his head as he courageously sleuths a la the heroes of The Fugitive, Marathon Man or a vintage Hitchcock yarn. But that’s a quibble. Tell everyone to see this movie.


Distributor: Music Box
Cast: Francois Cluzet, Marie-Josee Croze, Andre Dussollier, Kristin Scott Thomas, François Berleand, Nathalie Baye, Marina Hands and Jean Rochefort
Director: Guillaume Canet
Screenwriters: Guillaume Canet and Phillippe Lefebvre
Producer: Alain Attal
Genre: Thriller/romance; French-language with English subtitles
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 125 min.
Release date: June 27 ltd.

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