Tell No One
Now Showing at: Mariemont Theatre.
Review by: Larry Thomas
When it comes to movies, the French seem to get right what American studios tend to continually screw up. They have the knack of combining the style and class of films from the 1940s and 50s with some of the contemporary affectations of the 21st century into what occasionally turns out to be an exceptionally good film.
The latest example of this is the thriller Tell No One. Written and directed by popular French actor Guilliame Canet, he weaves a tale of suspense of a man under suspicion in the same vein as Alfred Hitchcock, Claude Chabrol, and Fritz Lang. Alex Beck is a highly thought of pediatrician, who is married to Margot, his childhood sweetheart. They seem perfect for each other, returning each year to a small, secluded lake where they first carved their initials on a tree, and to add a notch to note the passing of another year. On this trip, however, Margot is kidnapped and murdered. The police think Alex did it. His in-laws think he did it. But there is no proof, so life goes on. Until eight years have passed. Alex’s life begins to unravel when cryptic e-mail messages appear on his computer, and the police have once again become interested in pinning this deed on the good doctor.
To reveal more plot points would be unconscionable, as what happens to Alex, his friends, and his in-laws furnish the twists, turns, and surprises. As in the best of Hitchcock, Alex has to prove his innocence, if he can, with only the aid of a handful of friends. As in the best of Chabrol, it’s done with typical French style and intelligence--violence is kept to a minimum, chase scenes are mostly on foot, and the cinematography by Christophe Offenstein is both brilliant and breathtaking, without being dizzying. Music by someone only identified as “M” is quite acceptable, as is the use of a few well-placed pop tunes as punctuation to the story.
To add to all these good things is an exceptional cast. Francois Cluzet, so terrific in Bertrand Tavernier’s jazz epic Round Midnight some twenty years ago, is outstanding as a man trapped by circumstance and on the run. Andre Dussolier is his father-in-law, a retired police inspector who was in charge of the case. Kristin Scott-Thomas is his best friend, who is also his sister’s lover. And the legendary French character actor Jean Rochefort has a couple of really good scenes as a very wealthy man whose son was also murdered.
You can try to keep track of all the clues and twists as the story progresses, but it will be better to just get involved in the film and let the ending be revealed to you in due time.
Also impressive about Tell No One is that it was filmed and released in France in 2006. It never saw the light of a projector in America until the Music Box Theatre in Chicago saw it, liked it, and decided to take a chance by letting American audiences have a go at it. It worked, as Tell No One has become the most popular foreign language film released so far this year. It’s incredibly satisfying to have such a good film become a major hit for a small company.
The R-rated Tell No One, in French with English subtitles, is now showing at the Mariemont Theatre.