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Tell No One

In an effort to entice you to the movie, since it's up against not only The Dark Knight but also Mamma Mia! (two films that will be playing long into the summer so you can catch them anytime), I have included the trailer below.

Tell No One begins in a romantic mood, with a bluesy love song playing as we meet Alex (Francois Cluzet) and Margot (Marie-Josee Croze), a married couple enjoying an evening in the country with friends. They go for a late night swim in the lake, have a minor disagreement, and Margot heads back to the house. But she's apparently attacked and murdered. Fast-forward eight years. Alex still seems devastated by his wife's death and the fact that he can't remember anything after being knocked out at the scene by an unseen assailant. These painful memories are about to be stirred up again as the police have unearthed a pair of bodies near the scene of his wife's murder. Could these have been her murderers? Or, as the police have always been inclined to believe, will this prove that Alex may have had something to do with his wife's death. But is she actually dead? Alex gets a cryptic email with video of a woman who looks remarkably like Margot. So as the cops pursue Alex, Alex sets tries to unravel the mystery of what happened to his wife eight years ago.

Actor-turned-director Guillaume Canet creates an elegant but darkly hued and violent thriller to wrap his tale of romantic obsession in. The draw of this film is Cluzet's quietly intense performance as Alex. He conveys the agony of a man who not only loses his beloved wife but also must put up with the continued accusations of the local cops who refuse to believe his story. Looking a bit like a French Dustin Hoffman, Cluzet has an everyman quality and humanity that he brings to the screen. He makes Alex's obsession very tangible and real, and we believe that he would risk everything and do anything to find his wife again. It's Cluzet's performance and the romance at the core of the film that makes Tell No One stand out.

Croze, who was so alluring in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, is convincing as the woman who could so beguile Alex. British actress Kristen Scott Thomas (handling the French dialogue with ease) has a nice turn as Alex's supportive friend, while veterans Andre Dussollier, Jean Rochefort, and Natalie Baye display efficient skill in supporting roles. Francois Berleand as a veteran cop who changes his opinion of Alex, displays a wise and weary appeal. As he did in the two Transporter films, he creates a character that hangs back, and is willing to take a little time before jumping to any conclusions. There was also an actress whose name i could not find but she's plays a lithe, lethal thug with a particularly nasty streak. I'll have to search some more to find out who she was, but she was memorable in a small, silent part.


Marie-Josee Croze and Francois Cluzet in Tell No One (Music Box Films)

Canet is skilled at working with his actors and in creating an effective mood. But he and writer Philippe Lefebvre get a bit tangled in the complications of the plot. By the end, the story has turned in upon itself so many times that we have to revisit scenes in multiple flashbacks to sort things out. The problem is that the last section of the film feels like solid exposition as everything is explained to us, and the film keeps doubling back on itself.

Canet, after a nice music selection in the beginning, overuses popular songs to define the moods of the film. We don't need to hear a song about someone drinking too much as we see Alex drinking too much.

But one thing that Canet excels at is shooting in Paris. We get a very different view of the city here. Canet captures the ethic and economic diversity of the city as he shoots in less familiar locations and milks them for their rich textures.

Tell No One (unrated but for mature audiences and in French with English subtitles) is a mesmerizing tale of obsessed love complicated by murder and deception. The main characters are so well drawn and performed that you don't mind that some of the plot doesn't hold up well upon reflection.

Companion viewing: Vertigo, Obsession, Trouble in Mind, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Transporter

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