Tell No One

Tell No One

Film review by: Witney Seibold



            Here’s the twisty plot: Eight years ago, Alex (François Cluzet) went on a romantic swim with his wife Margot (Marie-Josée Croze). She exited the moonlit lake before he did, and screamed from the bushes. When exiting the lake to help her, Alex was bludgeoned by an unseen person, and didn’t come to for a few days. His wife had been killed.


            Alex now runs a successful business as a pediatrician, and is constantly haunted by memories of his wife. He can’t confide in Margot’s police inspector father (André Dussolier) or his own sister Anna (Marina Hands), or even Margot’s best friend Maître (Nathalie Baye), but has found an unlikely confidante in his sister’s wife Hélène (Kristen Scott Thomas, so that’s where she’s been).


            The film’s action begins when Alex receives an e-mail from an unknown sender featuring a short video of his wife, taken a few days ago. Is it a fake? Is Margot still alive? To complicate matters, the case of his wife’s murder, long since closed, is reopened when a pair of corpses is found buried on Alex’s property. Through a series of convoluted events, the gendarmerie begin to suspect that perhaps Alex had something to do with the death of his wife eight years ago, Alex must start asking for favors from some of this criminal friends to elude capture and eventually find out the source of the mysterious e-mails himself.


            The plot of Guillaume Canet’s “Tell No One” (based on the novel by Harlan Coben) is just as murky and difficult-to-follow as some sub-par American thrillers I’ve seen recently (“88 Minutes” springs to mind), but has the advantages of solid acting, and grace in its storytelling. Cluzet, looking like an intenser version of Dustin Hoffman, brings a Hitchcockian wrongly-accused everyman quality to Alex which holds a good deal of the film’s tension. The overabundance of small incident (there are thugs, a few torture scenes, some flashbacks, and one heck of a footrace) is balanced by scenes of intense melancholy, or moments of warm humor, or moments of truly shocking coldness. It’s as if a Brian De Palma script were directed by Michael Hanake, but without the proselytizing.


            There was even a great moment when Alex realizes what a computer password might be by overhearing “With or Without You” by U2 on a radio. His run to the nearest computer to try it out, with U2 blasting on the soundtrack, could have come straight out of a Cameron Crowe movie.


            “Tell No One” does commit some of the cardinal sins of the thriller. For one, it shows us a flashback, and then will show the same flashback to us again later, but with details altered. Secondly, it also strategically holds certain bit of information from the audience just so they can be revealed at a more dramatic time. However, unlike most thrillers that commit these sins, “Tell No One” can be forgiven. You see its style is so strong, and its purpose so clear, that the audience almost expects to be jerked around a little (De Palma’s own “Femme Fatale” could be described this way too). So even if “Tell No One” is occasionally shoving us left-and-right, it feels o.k.

Published in: on July 21, 2008 at 7:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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