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Tell No One

A movie directed by Guillame Canet

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One of the finest thrillers on film, from an equally fine book.

  • Nov 23, 2011
Rating:
+5
Says U. S. film critic Roger Ebert: "Here is how a thriller should be made."
Says Stephen Holden of the New York Times: "I watched it twice. It was even better the second time."
Says me: "I couldn't agree more with them." Tell No One, even without the quotes, is one of the best thrillers I've seen in a long, long time.
 
Alexander Beck and his wife, Margot, both much in love, have gone for a bit of evening skinny-dipping in the country. There's a minor disagreement and she dives back in from the float and heads to the shore. He hears her cry out and swims as swiftly as he can after her. When he reaches the small dock and starts to pull himself out, he's met by a baseball bat. While he's in a coma for three days his wife is found dead with severe bruising and cuts, the marks of a known serial killer. But who pulled Beck out of the water? Who called for emergency medical help?
 
Eight years later Dr. Alex Beck, a pediatrician, is told by the police that the remains of two unidentified male bodies have been found in the vicinity of where his wife was murdered. Then he receives an e-mail on his computer. The attachment shows a woman leaving a crowded exit. She pauses and looks at the security camera. The picture is fuzzy. The scene ends. Beck has never remarried and still is haunted by the memory of his wife. He is almost sure this woman is she. The message in the e-mail says, "Tell no one. They're watching."
 
The director and co-screenwriter Guillaume Canet has taken the novel by Harlan Coben and, working with Coben, has fashioned a film at least as good as the novel. The film has been crafted with care. You'd best pay attention to every moment. Irrelevant items turn out to be relevant. Assumptions based on how a scene opens turn out often to be not what they seem, but just as reasonable.
 
Canet (and Coben) don't shy away from violence -- there is a memorable woman you don't ever want to displease -- but the violence isn't just for gee whiz purposes. When violence happens, it reminds us to stay alert. Canet takes us all over the place, from Paris slums to society horse events. He has Beck dancing across a highway filled with speeding cars and then hiding out in a dumpster sharing space with garbage and a large rat.
 
The story is just as complicated as Coben's novel (as all his novels are), but -- if you've been paying attention -- all becomes clear. If the cops are after Beck because they think he may have had something to do with his wife's death, it also may be true that others are after him because they think she might be alive. But why?
 
Helping immeasurably with the interest and speed of the film are the actors. Francois Cluzet plays Dr. Beck, a capable, resourceful man, but no buff Hollywood hero. Cluzet is not an especially handsome lead actor, and that's all to the good. Surrounding him are such fine French actors as Andre Dussollier as his wife's father, a grieving retired senior cop; Francois Berleand as a sympathetic and smart police officer; Nathalie Baye as a lawyer who knows how to deal with district attorneys; and a fine Jean Rochefort, as well as Kristin Scott Thomas speaking impeccable French as his best friend, a wealthy woman having an affair with his equestrienne sister.
 
Tell No One is an excellent movie.
 
I hope you'll pick up of a few of Harlan Coben's mysteries while you're at it. He started out with several books featuring Myron Bolitar (whose best friend, Win Lockwood, is not a person to irritate). Try the first one first, Deal Breaker. Coben later moved into darker themes, such as Tell No One. Coben knows how to create intricate but logical plots and strong characters. He's a first-class writer. His books are much better than the usual thriller-every-year bestseller that some authors churn out regularly.
One of the finest thrillers on film, from an equally fine book. One of the finest thrillers on film, from an equally fine book. One of the finest thrillers on film, from an equally fine book. One of the finest thrillers on film, from an equally fine book.

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More Tell No One reviews
review by . April 04, 2009
Two hours and 5 minutes, is a long time to draw out this "mystery." This film meanders around, running time backward and forward, replaying scenes, subtracting and adding details, until the audience is finally shown the whole story. I love French film, I love mysteries, I love the odd chase scene, unfortunately this film mostly strikes out on most accounts.     Dr. Alex Beck and his wife Margot drive out to a country house on the lake. We realize this is a childhood romance that …
review by . October 14, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
This is a very exciting thriller, in the tradition of American films like The Fugitive, but with a unique edge that makes it distinctively French and deliciously diabolical. It is certainly darker (and funnier) than The Fugitive, but it is no accident that there is an American feel, since it is based on a book by Harlan Coben.     Eight years after his wife's brutal murder, new clues emerge that lead police to once again suspect that Alexander Beck may have killed her. At the …
About the reviewer
C. O. DeRiemer ()
Ranked #2
Since I retired in 1995 I have tried to hone skills in muttering to myself, writing and napping. At 75, I live in one of those places where one moves from independent living to hospice. I expect to begin … more
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Wiki

Based on the book by American author Harvey Coben, this French suspense thriller is one of those exhilarating word-of-mouth gems one can't to tell everyone about. Francois Cluzet stars as Alex, a pediatrician whose beloved wife, Margot (Marie-Josee Croze) was shockingly murdered eight years before. As the anniversary of her death approaches, Alex begins to receive cryptic emails and a video that seems to suggest that she is alive. The discovery of two long-buried bodies at the crime scene turn Alex into some kind of Hitchcockian Everyman, implicated in a crime he could not possibly have committed. But when he makes a mad dash from the police who visit him at his office, he seems to have signed his own confession. This synopsis doesn't even begin to hint at the genuinely exciting and surprising twists, turns, and revelations that await Alex in this Chinese box of a mystery. Brilliantly acted by an ensemble that includes Kristin Scott Thomas and French movie icon Jean Rochefort (Pardon Mon Affaire),Tell No Oneinvites repeat viewings, the better to appreciate the intricacies of its plotting and construction. And if you think you have it figured out, there's this from one character who tells Alex at a climactic point, "Wait, there's more."--Donald Liebenson
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Details

Director: Guillame Canet
DVD Release Date: March 31, 2009
Runtime: 125 minutes
Studio: Music Box Films
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