Screen Adaptation of Harlen Coben's "paranoid thriller"
Dec 31, 2009 (Updated Jan 1, 2010)
Review by Stephen Murray
Rated a Very Helpful Review
User Rating: Excellent
Pros:construction/plot, François Cluzet, Nathalie Baye
The Bottom Line: Tense even running slightly more than two hours
Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
Recommend this product?
Adapted from a Harlan Coben novel by writer-director(-actor) Guillaume Canet Ne le Dis à Personne (Tell No One, 2006) features Kristin Scott Thomas speaking seemingly flawless French, though not in the leading role as in I've Loved You So Long. I rented the DVD to watch her in French, but she is not onscreen that much, and (as was not the case in "Loved") I preferred the dubbed-in-English track to the French. Dubbing often (e.g., in "Loved") sounds artificial even when I can't see lips moving, but the English of the dubbing for "Tell" seemed to me superior to that in the subtitles. The meaning in the two was always close, but I don't know why the lines that are dubbed are not the same lines of the subtitles, here or in other DVDs.
François Cluzet (Quatre étoiles) as a pediatrician named Alexandre Beck, whose wife was murdered or kidnapped eight years before the movie's present, is in almost every scene except some of the flashbacks in which he is told what happened back in the days before he lost his wife and brief glimpses of a group who have him and his sister-in-law under surveillance. The audience knows that Dr. Beck did not kill his wife from the opening scenes of the movie, but the police suspected him and suspect him again when two corpses are found in the lake where Alexandre and his wife Margot (Marie-Josée Croze, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) were swimming.
Alexandre was in a coma for three days and Margot's father, a police captain (André Dussollier, Un coeur en hiver) IDed the body. A new murder makes Alexandre the police's prime suspect and he runs away, seeking the aid of Bruno (Gilles Lellouche, Un coeur en hiver), Private Fears in Public Places), a gangster whose hemophiliac son's life he has saved. Eventually, he and we find out why Alexandre is being stalked and what happened at the lake and before that.
A man being pursued for crimes he did not commit while trying to find out who committed them and why is very Hitchcock territory (though with the specificity of a physician wrongly suspected of having murdered his wife, "The Fugitive" is even more a model for Coben's 2001 best-seller). Hitchcock would have supplied a blonde helpmate/romance. Scott Thomas looks the part, though more fragile than Grace Kelly or Eva Marie Saint. Her character, Hélène Perkins, however is a lesbian, partnered with Margot's sister Anne (Marina Hands). Alexandre is still in love with his wife and hopeful that she is alive, though it is not clear whether this hope is leading him into a trap.
Although running five minutes over the two hour mark, I didn't see needlessly extended scenes or superfluous ones. Maybe a few driving scenes could have been shortened, but the pace never dragged. The audience shares the protagonist's confusions about what happened and whether he is being stalked only by the police or by another team. He does not know how he got out of the water after being knocked out on the fateful night either years earlier, and what we see at the start ends with the bat connecting with his head and falls back into the water from the ladder on the dock.
The success both of the love story and the chase/paranoid thriller stories depends on François Cluzet, who acquits himself well as a physician and a devoted husband. François Berleand is also very good underplaying the police commander, as is Nathalie Baye as Alexandre's attorney, especially in a meeting with the prosecutor. And I liked the Otis Redding song used at the beginning that I don't recognize.(IMDb lists "For Your Precious Love," if that is correct, it is a different song with the same name as the one made famous by the Impressions.)
The DVD includes outtakes and deleted scenes.
©2009, Stephen O. Murray
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