Saturday, 27 October 2007

Tell No One (2007)

Tell No One At a Glance: Film and DVD 7 out of 10, On Sale 15th October 2007 at a typical online price of £13.89. Imdb rating at time of writing is 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes is at 93% approval

Tell No One seems to have captured the imagination of the British film-going public, and certainly the critics, with universally enthusiastic reviews and a Top 10 placing in the UK Box Office Top 10. Such enthusiasm probably says as much about the current state of the Hollywood thriller as it does about the quality of this French-speaking, English-subtitled film.

Nevertheless, the film's success is no mean achievement, particularly given the general aversion of the great British public to pay good money to 'read a film, rather than watch it', and it's received a generous launch on dual shiny DVD discs from Revolver Entertainment, just a couple of months after its strong UK box office debut.

Alex and Margot, childhood sweethearts head off for a camping trip that will end disasterously for both of them

In truth, Tell No One is a well-written, well-acted, well-paced thriller as one would expect from the general raves.

I just wish I thought it was as clever or flawless as most of the critics have implied.

For me there were too many 'suspend disbelief' moments to mark the film out as a true masterpiece. A final, unnecessary 'one twist too many' plot-point at the end of the movie also smacked more of desperation than the careful thought-out planning that's in evidence for most of the film's running time. It's as if the film-makers had panicked when they didn't need to, and tacked on a final twist to try and give a heightened sense of climax that really wasn't needed or warranted.

Carving their names on each yearly visit. Don't do this at home kids, it's vandalism!

Francois Cluzet plays the 'every man' Dr Alex Beck, whose romantic weekend countryside tryst with his childhood sweetheart (Marie-Josée Croze) is wrecked when she is seemingly grabbed and murdered by a serial killer on the loose, witht he good doctor left unconscious to wonder what exactly happened after he saw his wife grabbed and heard her screams for help.

Ten minutes in and the film jumps forward eight years in time. The doctor, still seemingly coming to terms with his grief, receives an anonymous email with a link to a public webcam that appears to show his wife Margot's face in a crowd. This all happens as the bodies of two seemingly murdered men are unearthed at the scene of the original crime. Suddenly Alex is under investigation not just for his wife's murder, but for that of the two newly discovered men and finds himself in a race against time to find out if the face seen in the crowd really is that of the one woman who may hold some answers to him.

The ongoing plot revelations make for fun viewing, with a central showcase police chase sequence across a busy motorway being particularly impressive, not least for being on foot rather than following the car-chase clichés of the genre.

The film is undoubtedly at its best when following the usual edge-of-your-seat 'thriller' formula, albeit with gaps in plausibility that will have you groaning out loud in places, but unfortunately the director, former 'pretty boy'/'French heart throb' actor Guillaume Canet tries to also graft on a love story, which for me didn't work, mainly because of the lack of chemistry between his two leads.

Lack of romantic chemistry issues aside, Cluzet delivers a strong performance as the 'everyman' forced to go on the run and become someone different when his life is threatened, which is just as well since he appears in nearly every single scene. Kristin Scott Thomas pops up in one of several minor, but important, roles with Francois Berleand standing out in the role of the investigating office trying to get to the truth of what happened.

One of Beck's patients is the son of a crook in the seedy underworld of drugs and crime - kinda convenient when Beck finds himself on the run from the police

The picture transfer is flawless, such that at times I felt I was almost watching an HD-DVD transfer, the picture quality being almost 3D-like on some exterior shots. Sound is adequate - reinforcing the action when needed, without imposing itself too much. It serves the needs of the film but there's nothing here that's going to have you whipping the disc out to show off your new sound system to the neighbours.

The extra's are generous enough to warrant a second disc, but annoyingly are presented for the most part in non-anamorphic widescreen which means on my plasma screen they occupy a small percentage of the screen with black borders around all four sides. The hour-long 'Making of' is more an on-set diary, and gives good insight to the film-making process, and particularly in how the director Guillaume Canet works with his cast and crew.

Alex's father-in-law doesn't want to talk about the state of Margot's body when he found it - is he hiding something?!

The trailer, deleted scenes, out-takes, and bizarre pranks played on the actors when they've finished their last scenes (obscure enough to only be funny to those directly involved) round out this package, making this good value, with the director's short, and rather inconsequential, 15 minute short film I Can't Sleep also included as a bonus. The slipcase sleeve also boasts 'Hidden Extra's, but I'm afraid I've never understood the obsession with making it difficult for the DVD purchaser to find what they've paid for and didn't waste time trying to find them.

Overall this is an above-average thriller, if not quite the masterpiece some are claiming it to be. It's certainly well worth a rental, but I'd question the need to purchase it given that its charm lies mainly in the viewer's ability to fail at second-guessing what might happen next. Nevertheless it's a cut above the average and well worth a couple of hours of your time. Recommended.

The police suspect Alex may have murdered his wife eight years earlier and evidence starts to mount up against him as the film progresses

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