That term first came to my mind when, as a child, I’d try to say “stream of consciousness” and end up with “brainflow.” It seems to fit here.

Welcome to the ramblings of my mind. (For now, these ones revolve mostly around films.)

Tell No One (Ne le dis à personne)

Sunday, March 8th, 2009 8:14 pm—Film

Tell No One (France 2006, Crime/Drama/Mystery/Thriller), Writer/Director: Guillaume Canet

A few weeks ago, when I was laid up with a cold, I rented a really great French film called Tell No One. I watched it, and then I did nothing else with it until now, which is a shame because it’s an excellent movie and has been showing at repertory theatres in the meantime. But it is available to rent, and will be coming back to the ByTowne next month. So you should make a point of seeing it, one way or another.

Tell No One was released in Europe in 2006, but it didn’t reach North American audiences until 2008. When the film begins, Dr. Alex Beck (François Cluzet) and his wife Margot (Marie-Josée Croze) are spending a blissfully romantic day in the country. By the end of the night, Margot is brutally murdered and Alex is unconscious.

Eight years later, Alex is still frozen in his grief. He never got over the loss of his wife, who was his greatest love and childhood sweetheart. Near the eighth anniversary of Margot’s unsolved murder, two bodies are turned up near the site of her death. And Alex gets an email with evidence that Margot is still alive—and instructions to tell no one. As Alex secretly tries to put the pieces together, the police become increasingly suspicious of him, not only for Margot’s death but also for the rising body count.

Tell No One is based on the Harlan Coben novel of the same name. I haven’t read the book, but I didn’t have to to know that the movie definitely stands on its own. It doesn’t suffer from the problem many adaptations do: taking the source material too literally and failing to translate onscreen. In the end, Tell No One is a simple enough story (if murder can ever really be simple). Its success comes in the way writer/director Canet lets the story unfold. The mystery itself isn’t particularly unusual or inspired. But the pacing throughout the movie is so spot-on that you’re intrigued to the very end.

Canet and Cluzet keep you aligned with Alex throughout the film, giving you a reason to care about what happens to him. Part of that reason lies in the fabulous job the filmmakers did in establishing Alex and Margot’s bond. Cluzet and Croze—a Quebec actress and one of the most appealing performers I’ve ever watched (see The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)—really make you believe in the couple’s love. The fact that you can feel Alex’s loss goes a long way to making you want to see his journey through to the end.

In this way, Tell No One achieves exactly what I criticized The Brave One for failing to do. There’s a certain quiet that director Canet lets happen between Alex and Margot, in the little looks and touches we see, and it allows their relationship to blossom on camera. In Neil Jordan’s The Brave One, it was too much, too soon for the lovebirds. But with Tell No One, it’s a case of never enough, never soon enough. Or, in the words of a much better writer than I: “You’re many years late/how happy I am to see you.”

Go rent Tell No One. You’ll wonder why you waited so long.

2 Responses

  1. Gen

    Will definitely put this movie on my netflix list. Thanks Amanda for your posts. I started watching The Visitors this weekend. A movie you blog about a while ago. It is a great movie!

  2. admin

    Thanks Gen!! If you like Tell No One, you should also rent the 2000 French film, Under the Sand. Similar content – a woman (Charlotte Rampling) wakes up from a seaside nap to find that her husband has disappeared. But different outcome… also reminds me a bit of Truly, Madly Deeply.

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