Tell No One Review
The French economy may be going tits up but there are some things they’ve always done well; wine, food, knickers, clothes, August and films. But they were best known for making a certain kind of film, probably involving beautiful naked actresses and long scenes where no-one speaks and a fly buzzes, loudly, in the corner. Well, Guillaume Canet seems to be on a mission to change this. He has adapted Harlan Coben’s best-selling novel Tell No One, and turned it into a stylish, entertaining French thriller in which stuff happens! And won a shedload of Cesars, and made some money! Zut alors!
Alex (Cluzet) is a paediatrician, very much in love with his wife Margot (Croze). On the way back from a visit to friends they stop for a swim at their own special place, a lake that they have been visiting since their childhood. Later, Margot goes to let the dog out of the car; Alex is knocked unconscious and Margot is brutally murdered. Eight years later, Alex, a broken man, receives a mysterious email; it is from Margot, and appears to be recent. Can Margot be alive?
At the same time, the discovery of two bodies near the murder site leads to the police reopening their case with Alex as the number one suspect…
Tell No One is a taut, exciting, extremely accomplished and well-made thriller that happens to be in French. I really hope this won’t put people off going to see it, because it deserves to find a wide audience. Canet, still probably best known over here as the cute French love-rival in The Beach, succeeds with this his second feature in producing a thriller as slick and entertaining as anything coming out of Hollywood. As with many directors who have experience on the other side of the camera, he is brilliant with actors. He gets fine performances from all his cast, which notably includes Kristen Scott-Thomas as the lesbian lover of Alex’s sister, Nathalie Baye as his high-powered lawyer, and Andre Dussolier as Margot’s father.
He also shows a real side of Paris which is often neglected by cuter films like Orchestra Seats or most notably Amelie. Alex is not a fancy private doctor; he has all sorts of patients and his relationship with one of them, Bruno (Lelouch), a chavtastic criminal, provides some of the film’s comic highlights as well as some of its darkest moments. Paris feels very real; from the smart offices of Alex’s attorney to the grimy council flats and the flea markets where Bruno and his gang hang out. And as Alex goes from respectable paediatrician to fugitive, we see each of these scenarios from his point of view.
The sense of the net tightening around Alex is beautifully delineated. If I have any quibbles its with a slight over-egging of the pudding when the villain is finally unmasked (and a tiresome paedophilia subplot – please find some new villains, writers), but Alex’s desperation and determination to discover the truth are skilfully conveyed by Cluzet in a star-making performance. This is a man who has, after all, been effectively dead for eight years, only now beginning to believe there is a chance for him to live again. Oh, and it features a really cute dog.
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