Tell No One, a new French thriller from actor turned director Guilaume Canet, is some kind of phenomenon. The film is a perfect blend of drama, suspense, thrill, humor, action, wits, twists and turns. You’ll feel like it is too much, you’ll look desperately to expose plot holes that don’t exist, you’ll be mad that you can’t figure it out, although you aren’t supposed to right away. And then slowly, but surely, you’ll fall madly in love with how well you’ve been deceived.
It’d be a sin to reveal too much of the plot, so I’ll briefly set it up. Alex (Francois Cluzet) is a successful doctor who is steadily recovering after his wife’s murder eight years ago. Soon enough he is the main suspect in the murder of two people and someone is e-mailing him, hinting that his wife is still alive. There’s the first ten minutes, and that’s plenty.
What’s brilliant about Tell No One is how it manages to successfully fuse several genres by using a vivid screenplay, sharp direction and pitch-perfect acting. Every single performance in this film is genuine, fierce and completely absorbing. Characters are thrown at you in rapid succession, some of them not only look alike, the have the same occupation, all in the fun of throwing you off. Cluzet has a scowl that is remarkably convincing; he looks like a ‘70s Dustin Hoffman, fearless yet terrified. His wife, seen mostly is flashbacks, is played by Marie-Josee Croze (the head nurse in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) who does a great job of imprinting her face in our heads for days.
The supporting cast delivers as well. There’s Alex’s sister, his sister’s lover (a fiery Kristen Scott Thomas), a street-thug who owes Alex, hitmen, creepily skinny female torturers, good cops, bad cops, good lawyers, bad lawyers, rich people, poor people and on and on. You may trust someone in one scene, then despise them the next.
Tell No One has suspenseful moments that rival Hitchcock, chase scenes that match the Bourne films, humor that makes you laugh out loud and a soundtrack that is uncontested. I’m a big fan of music in film, I think the right song can not only make a scene, but make a movie classic. Tell No One has its perfect song moment, when a breathtaking scene is scored to U2’s With or Without You. I’ve rarely seen a song used so expertly in a film, it’s simply stunning.
I’ve made this movie sound like a school project, like you have to devote too much attention to it, which is somewhat true. Although it is passionately entertaining, you do have to engage yourself more than most films. (But believe me, the payoff is worth it.) If you see that as a flaw, then go waste your time with Transformers. But if you want to venture out a little bit, then buy a ticket, read the subtitles and be completely blown away. This is one of the best films of the year, folks, impossible to forget. A+