Three and a half stars (No MPAA Rating)
In the mood for a thriller? A juicy murder mystery where the wrong man gets accused of all sorts of nastiness and must clear his name while being pursued by the authorities and God knows who else? Then consider a trip to Landmark’s Keystone Art Cinema for Tell No One, based on Harlan Coben’s popular novel (6 million copies sold in 27 languages). The movie has a few clunky parts, but it satisfies.
The set up: While relaxing on a platform on a secluded lake during a nighttime swim, Dr. Alex Beck (François Cluzet) and his wife Margot (Marie-Josee Croze) have a minor disagreement and she dives off and swims back to shore. Moments after she reaches land, Alex hears her scream and races to find her. When he pulls himself out of the water at the dock, he gets knocked unconscious.
Cut to eight years later. We learn that Alex was in a coma for three days and it was determined that Margot was murdered by a serial killer. As the anniversary of the tragedy approaches, two events stir things up. First, a pair of bodies are uncovered near the lakeside property, one with a key to a safety deposit box containing materials that put Alex’s innocence in question. Second, Alex receives an e-mail with a link to a recent video of a woman that looks very much like Margot. The accompanying message says, “Tell no one. We’re being watched.”
Intrigued? The story that follows is a good one, twisting and turning all over the place. The movie is packed with colorful characters and unlikely alliances, and there’s a great chase scene that includes a mad dash across a busy highway.
This adaptation of an American novel is a French film with English subtitles by actor/writer/director Guillaume Canet. Now, I realize that some of you just moaned, but I hope you won’t be dissuaded from seeing the movie because of the subtitles. Sure, it’s distracting to read and take in the visuals at the same time, but the film is worth the effort. Author Coben and screenplay co-writers Canet and Philippe Lefebvre take you to one unexpected place after another and nothing is as it appears to be, even when you think you finally know the full story.
Canet’s filming of the story is smooth and striking, keeping the eye as engaged as the mind. The chase scene that includes the highway crossing is a stand out, but the quiet moments are well-presented, nicely balancing out the more flashy episodes. The acting by the internationally known cast is uniformly excellent. The most recognizable face to casual American viewers, incidentally, will be Kristin Scott Thomas, who plays the wife of Alex’s sister.
So what are the clunky parts? Canet wedges in a few pop songs over scenes of movement. They don’t feel organic and their presence is mildly irritating. And when the explanation for the complicated goings-on is provided, the movie gets a bit windy. Mind you, every part of the explanation, even the far-fetched elements, is fascinating, but the character doing the explaining takes his sweet time spelling it all out. These are minor annoyances, though. Tell No One is a smart, complex thriller. Nice to get one of those, especially in the dog days of summer.