Eight years ago, Doctor Alex Beck's wife Margot was brutally murdered and a serial killer was charged with her murder. But the discovery of two bodies on the shores of the lake where Margot was killed and mutilated after a midnight swim forces the police to reopen the case, with new evidence casting suspicion on Alex. At the same time, Dr Beck is receiving strange email messages from"¦ his presumably dead wife.

1 Jan 2009 - 12:00 AM  UPDATED 14 May 2020 - 2:03 PM
4

It's a frequent and justified complaint that Hollywood movies are dumbed down so there's no risk of losing even the slowest person in the audience. Those frustrated with such simplicity will welcome Tell No-One, a movie that positively embraces its complexity.

This French-made film is based on a novel by American crime writer Harlan Coben. It's an interesting cross-cultural hybrid, an arthouse action thriller, if you like.

Francois Cluzet is Alex Beck, a doctor who's happily married to his childhood sweetheart, Margo. He's devastated when she's attacked and murdered one night at a remote lakeside location. Initially, Alex is a suspect, before the crime is attributed to a serial killer.

Cut to eight years later and Alex hasn't really put the pieces of his life back together. And that makes him particularly susceptible to an email claiming to be from his wife. The message tells him to “tell no-one” because he's being watched. At the same time, two bodies are dug up by the lake, leading police to once again regard Alex with suspicion.

Tell No-One is a dense, exciting thriller in the style of Hitchcock.

Cluzet's Beck is a terrific Everyman, a believable character beaten down but not beaten as the plot thickens.

Writer-director Guillaume Canet populates his movie with memorable supporting characters, from Kristin Scott Thomas as a sympathetic friend to Gilles Lellouche's ferociously loyal thug. Each of them has an emotional underpinning that brings a rare richness to a genre movie.

Canet's camera presents a different view of Paris, particularly in ghetto locations, and he makes evocative use of songs by U2, Jeff Buckley and a tense score by the musician known as M. It's affecting and intriguing, but Tell No-One also comes with explosive moments – your heart will be racing during Alex's escape across a highway and when he's rescued from violent kidnappers.

If there's a criticism here, it's that Tell No One may have too many riches: so many characters and intrigues pile up that the payoff can't help feel a bit contrived. Even so, most of it holds together, which can't be said for most Hollywood thrillers.

As a nail biter you don't want to miss a second of Tell No-One rates four stars.

 

Watch 'Tell No One'

Sunday 24 May, 8:30pm on SBS World Movies (streaming after broadcast at SBS On Demand)

MA15+
France, 2006
Genre: Drama, Crime, Mystery
Language: French
Director: Guillaume Canet
Starring: Kristin Scott Thomas, Marie-Josée Croze, André Dussollier, Marina Hands, François Cluzet
What's it about?
Eight years ago, Doctor Alex Beck's wife Margot was brutally murdered and a serial killer was charged with her murder. But the discovery of two bodies on the shores of the lake where Margot was killed and mutilated after a midnight swim forces the police to reopen the case, with new evidence casting suspicion on Alex. At the same time, Dr Beck is receiving strange email messages from"¦ his presumably dead wife.

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