Friday, August 1, 2008

Tell No One


An opening scene at a family reunion establishes several faces and relations; only you’ll need to see this movie twice in order to make the irregular puzzle pieces fit. Tell No One comes from France but is based on a novel by American writer Harlan Coben. Tell No One (Ne le dis à personne) will no doubt be remade as an American film, because it does unfold like a thriller should with multiple plot twists, so it behooves you to see this faithful version before it becomes merely something to compare something else to.
Frankly Tell No One unwinds so smoothly it’s hard to recommend anything else currently playing that employs such a fine tuned sense of suspense. After the beginning reunion sequence we focus on the lead couple, François Cluzet (Dr. Beck) and Marina Hands (Anne Beck) only to see their idyllic lakeside getaway interrupted by violence. The next thing we know it’s eight years later and Anne is dead and the police are re-opening the case with Dr. Beck as their main suspect. Before long all the people we briefly met earlier come into play as either suspects or allies, or maybe both.
Director Guillaume Canet also plays a supporting role but one that goes against his usual leading man good looks acting roles. He paces the story with just the right amount of information, so we’re always learning things at the same time as Dr. Beck. The introduction of important supporting characters at important intervals such as an inspector heading up the case or Beck’s lawyer, brings a familiar face forth (at least for French cinema fans) when you least expect it.
Canet even makes a dog an important character in a way that brings humor and emotional release as the plot starts to thicken. Beck runs his dog in a set-up that’s lifted from a Leos Carux film. We see him in a long tracking shot running along the street (with the dog) while we hear U2’s “With or Without You.” (In the Carux film he uses Bowie’s “Modern Love.”) This then figures into the story when U2 is used as a user name for an important email. It’s also the only real appearance of pop music in the film, another point that makes its use interesting. Right after that we see the dog get taken down by tranquilizer guns when the police bust into Beck’s apartment with a search warrant. As our new protag the dog drifts into unconsciousness all of a sudden the film is all about him.
But Canet shifts gears after catching us off guard with a moment of canine tenderness and proceeds to the freeway foot chase scene to end all chase scenes. There may be a bit of Marathon Man in this sequence but even as a multi-car pile up allows Beck to escape anew he’s given a deus ex machina when some homies show up out of nowhere to help him because they heard about the chase on the news.
There’s a subplot about this smaller gang of three thugs who work for someone (we don’t know yet) who are totally badass. The chick in the group tortures their victims by using the strength of her grip to put the kibosh on your stomach. When this nada gang engages the police, who at this point have just rescued Beck because they now believe he’s innocent, the shoot-out positively makes you glad you’re watching. Another scene involves Kristen Scott-Thomas (English Patient) giving her ward the Mammy Yoakum evil eye after the bitch slaps her. This scene freaked me out in a good way.
When we move into the final act there’s at least two zinger twists that are more inconceivable than unbelievable, and yet they move like clockwork. We’re talking a Waterbury clock before it was a Timex clock.
Tell No One is playing exclusively at the downtown Angelika.

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