Tell No One (Ne le dis à personne)


Francois Cluzet is late for the bus.

Francois Cluzet is late for the bus.

(2006) Suspense (Music Box) Francois Cluzet, Marie-Josee Croze, Andre Dussollier, Kristin Scott Thomas, Francois Berleand, Nathalie Baye, Jean Rochefort, Marina Hands, Gilles Lellouche, Philippe Lefebvre, Florence Thomassin, Olivier Marchal, Guillaume Canet, Brigitte Catillon, Samir Guesmi, Jean-Pierre Lorit, Jalil Lespert, Eric Savin. Directed by Guillaume Canet

One of the joys of a good thriller is that you don’t always know where it’s taking you. Getting there is half the fun; figuring out how you got there before you actually show up – priceless.

Alex Beck (Cluzet) and his wife Margot (Croze) have been sweethearts since they were children. Alex, a pediatrician, loves his wife with a passion but things aren’t all roses and soda pop; for one thing, this is France so it’s roses and wine thank you very much.

 

They’re on vacation in an idyllic lake setting and they get into one of those silly, meaningless arguments that married couples sometimes have. They are on a float in the middle of the lake; Margot takes off swimming for shore in a huff. A short time later, Alex hears her bloodcurdling scream. Terrified, he swims like an Olympian for shore but once he gets there, he is hit in the head, hard enough to put him in a coma for several days, and falls back into the water.

When he comes to, he discovers that Margot is missing and presumed dead. Worse yet, he is presumed to be her killer. The damning thing is actually his head wound; he was comatose but when discovered he was on the dock, not in the water. If he was in a coma how did he get there?

Alex has no explanation. He’s devastated – despite the fight his wife was everything. Seven years pass and Alex continues to be a shattered man going through the motions of life. However, he has never really escaped the murder as police still think he did it but can’t prove it. When two bodies are found in a shallow grave near where Margot was last seen, the old charges are brought up again. More disturbing still, Alex gets an e-mail with video depicting a woman who looks like Margot only a little older and begging him to “tell no one.” Is Margot still alive? Or is the killer messing with Alex in an attempt to further destroy him?

 

This is a story worthy of Hitchcock although it was actually written not by a Frenchman but by an American mystery author named Harlan Coben. From pretty much the opening scene you are on the edge of your seat and once this thing really gets going you feel like you’re on one of those teacup rides only without the vertigo. Canet constructs this beautifully and manages to cram an awful lot of story into two hours running time.

The hangdog Cluzet makes an excellent lead actor here. His anguish is apparent and his desperation equally so. He is being chased by the cops and like a trapped animal he does what it takes to survive. There is a chase scene through the streets of Paris which is as good as any action film chase you have ever seen and should be a must-see for any aspiring filmmaker who wants to film one. It is taut, dramatic, exciting and innovative without rewriting the whole book of chase scenes.

There is a great cast of supporting characters from Alex’ lesbian sister (Hands) to his lawyer (Baye) to his sister’s lover (Thomas) to a corrupt politician (Rochefort) to a sympathetic detective (Berleand) to his suspicious father-in-law (Dussollier) to a helpful criminal (Lellouche). Each of these is well-developed beyond being means to an end within the plot even though that’s what they essentially are. However, you never know for the most part how they are going to fit into the puzzle.

 

And that’s really what Tell No One is to be honest – a nice, big jigsaw puzzle. While it isn’t always easy to figure out and the ending is a bit of a cheat with characters surfacing near the very end who take the plot in unexpected directions, this is still absolute must-viewing for any aficionado of the suspense/thriller genre. Don’t let the subtitles scare you; there’s plenty else in the movie that will make your heart beat faster as it is.

WHY RENT THIS: Extremely taut. Cluzet makes for an everyman kind of hero. Takes unexpected turns.
WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: Hard to follow in places.
FAMILY VALUES: A smattering of violence, a fair amount of foul language and some sexuality.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The novel this was based on was originally offered to Hollywood, but author Harlan Coben was contacted by Canet who, Coben says, understood that the story was a thriller second and a love story first; therefore when the option fell through, Coben  awarded it to Canet instead. With the success of the Canet version, Hollywood has now optioned the novel where it sits currently in development hell.
NOTABLE HOME VIDEO EXTRAS: There’s an outtakes reel on the Blu-Ray edition.
BOX OFFICE PERFORMANCE: $33.4M on a $15M production budget.
SITES TO SEE: Netflix (DVD/Stream), Amazon (rent/buy), iTunes (rent/buy), Amazon (rent/buy), Vudu (rent/buy)
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Cache (Hidden)
FINAL RATING: 8/10
NEXT: If I Stay

New Releases for the Week of June 1, 2012


June 1, 2012

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN

(Universal) Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Eddie Izzard, Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Lily Cole. Directed by Rupert Sanders

The fairy tale of Snow White is re-imagined as an epic tale of magic and battle. A wicked queen, obsessed with retaining her youth and beauty, uses a magic mirror to prophesy that her reign would be eternal if only she dispatched the only woman whose beauty could potentially eclipse hers – Snow White. However, the girl has fled into the dark forest in habited by all manner of creatures. She dispatches a brave huntsman who has no fear of the woods in to kill her. Instead, they form an unlikely alliance, along with seven doughty dwarves to take on the might of the queen and her magic minions.

See the trailer, clips, promos and a featurette here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence, action and destruction, and for language)

Battlefield America

(Cinedigm) Marques Houston, Mekia Cox, Christopher Jones, Zach Belandes. A young businessman takes a group of kids from the wrong side of the tracks and tries to turn them into a champion underground dance crew. They’ll have to battle the odds – and each other – to rise above the streets, the drugs and the hopelessness they came from.

See the trailer and a featurette here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Urban Dance

Rating: PG-13 (for thematic elements involving some drug material, and for some language)  

Bernie

(Millennium) Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey, Rip Torn. The true story of a beloved figure in a small Texas town who taught Sunday school, sang in the church choir and worked at the local funeral home. When he befriended a rich widow whose outlook on life was as sour as her bank account was large, nobody was surprised – everybody liked Bernie, after all. When she turned up dead and Bernie was arrested for the murder, though, that was a surprise.

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: True Life Drama

Rating: PG-13 (for some violent images and brief strong language)  

Crooked Arrows

(Freestyle Releasing) Brandon Routh, Gil Birmingham, Michael Hudson, Chelsea Ricketts. A native American reluctantly takes on the lacrosse coaching duty at a reservation high school. As he helps the kids connect with a game that is largely part of their heritage, he in turn reconnects with his own native American spirituality as he leads his decidedly underdog club against an elite prep school with its own longstanding lacrosse tradition.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Sports Drama

Rating: PG-13  (for some suggestive references)

For Greater Glory

(ARC Entertainment) Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, Peter O’Toole, Oscar Isaac. The story of General Gorostieta, a Mexican military officer who had retired from war and hoped to live his life out in peace. However when civil war came to his country fueled by the injustice and repression of a corrupt regime, he feels compelled to take up the cause and turn a ragtag group of farmers and peasants into an army.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Biographical Drama

Rating: R (for war violence and some disturbing images) 

High School

(Anchor Bay) Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis, Colin Hanks, Mykelti Williamson. After a high school principal declares a zero tolerance for drugs and initiates mandatory drug testing for all students, the class valedictorian takes offense. In fact, he sees this as a grave injustice. So rather than risk that some of his fellow students be expelled for drug use, he decides to get the entire student body high – they can’t all get expelled, can they? This will take some doing however, but with the help of an epic stoner, he might just succeed.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Comedy

Rating: R (for pervasive drugs and language, crude and sexual content, some nudity – all involving teens) 

The Intouchables

(Weinstein) Omar Sy, Francois Cluzet, Anne Le Ny, Audrey Fleurot. A wealthy but spiritually bereft white French man who is a quadriplegic brings a black ex-con into his life as his attendant. Both men end up transformed by the experience. Saw this at the Florida Film Festival in April; you can read my review here.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: True Life Drama

Rating: R (for language and some drug use) 

Rowdy Rathore

(UTV) Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Supreeth Reddy. A conman meets and falls in love with a woman at a wedding he wasn’t invited to. Yearning to turn over a new leaf in order to keep the girl of his dreams, he runs into a six-year-old girl who inexplicably believes him to be her father. In the meantime the small town that he wants to settle down in, ruthless gangs are set to make life there a living hell…and he will need to find the inner hero to save the town, get the girl and be the father he needs to be.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Bollywood

Rating: NR 

The Intouchables


The Intouchables

There’s no business like snow business…

(2011) True Life Drama (Weinstein) Omar Sy, Francois Cluzet, Anne Le Ny, Audrey Fleurot, Clotilde Mollet, Alba Gaia Bellugi, Cyril Mendy, Christian Ameri, Gregoire Oestermann, Josephine de Meaux, Dominique Daguier, Francois Caron, Thomas Soliveres. Directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano

 

This is a movie that did big time box office in France last year, winding up the second most successful film in French history in just nine weeks. It is a heartwarming, uplifting kind of film and I can see why the French have taken to it.

American critics haven’t been quite as smitten, excoriating the film for what the high and mighty consider racist views. Now let me be clear on this; you have to be hyper-sensitive to see any sort of racism here at all. Most of the offense that huffy critics are taking are in the fact that the premise of the film is that a wealthy quadriplegic French industrialist (white) hires an upbeat ex-con (black) to be his attendant and take care of his needs; the relationship between them is as an employer-employee to begin with.

Folks, I know it might be hard to believe in this day and age, but there are white employers out there who have (*gasp*) non-white employees. There are even white rich guys who have personal assistants that are of African descent. Strangely, that doesn’t make it a master-slave relationship.

Notice how we are four paragraphs in and I have yet to actually discuss the movie except in the most general terms. That’s because I’m so furious at the lambasting this film is taking from politically correct, self-righteous morons who claim to be offended by this depiction of a relationship between a white employer and a black employee in which the white man is transformed by the spirit of the black man, who has the temerity to introduce the white man to pop music (in the person of Earth Wind and Fire) while introducing him to classical. The horror of it all.

Now this is based on a true story, although the attendant was in reality from Algeria and not Senegal as in the movie (which some critics thundered was further proof of the racial insensitivity of the filmmakers – can you imagine how these same critics would have howled with the Arab in the “subservient’ position?) so there is that. However, the rest of the movie is a tribute to humanity and its ability to find hope and inspiration in seemingly unlikely places.

Philippe (Cluzet) was injured in a paragliding accident and left a quadriplegic. His wife had since passed on, leaving him with an adopted daughter Elisa (Bellugi) and nobody to take care of his daily needs, which are many. He is looking for an attendant and interviewing a lot of different men of varying degrees of suitability. Driss (Sy) is recently released from prison. He quite frankly doesn’t expect to get the job; he is merely applying to satisfy his parole, which requires Philippe’s personal assistant Magalie (Fleurot) to fill out a form for him.

Instead, Philippe, tired of all the earnest and humorless men who want to be in charge of his very existence (including bathing him, pushing his wheelchair and making sure his breathing remains regular at night), is intrigued by Driss’ sunny attitude and flirtation with Magalie. He decides to hire the man, even though he’s an ex-con (for armed robbery) and perhaps not the most reliable of men.

Forced into a situation where they have to trust one another, a gradual mutual respect grows that turns into a deep friendship. Each man helps the other grow; Philippe introduces Driss to culture and inspires him to make something more of himself than, as Philippe puts it, a wheelchair-pusher. In turn Philippe’s eyes are opened and world broadened. Driss’ sunny disposition becomes contagious; not only Philippe but also Magalie and Yvonne (Le Ny) – his dour housekeeper – are transformed by Driss, whose upbeat joy of life is infectious.

The role of Driss is much more difficult than it sounds. For the kind of liveliness to be authentic, it has to come from within which is why Sy’s performance is so special. The audience is just as swept up by Driss’ enthusiasm as Philippe is. It’s the kind of performance that makes careers happen and considering the overwhelming success of the film in France, Sy has a brilliant future ahead of him; I’m personally hoping he comes to the States and does a few films here as well because I’m positive he will captivate audiences here just as thoroughly.

This is a movie that will leave you feeling good as you leave the theater, even if your mood was bad when you entered. In these rough times, that’s worth its weight in platinum. What angers me about these charges of racial insensitivity is that it might dissuade people from seeing the movie and that would be criminal. Don’t let a critic make up your mind for you; see the movie for yourself and make up your own mind. Personally, I’m willing to bet most of you will wind up agreeing with me – any insensitivity lies within the imagination of some overly-sensitive critics.

REASONS TO GO: Deeply uplifting. Sy turns in a career-making performance and Cluzet is awfully good as well.

REASONS TO STAY: Loses its way about 2/3 of the way through the movie and the ending is a bit too Hollywood.

FAMILY VALUES: There is some bad language as well as some depictions of drug use.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Omar Sy beat out Jean Dujardin of The Artist for the Best Actor award at the Cesar awards last year, the first actor of African descent to win it.

CRITICAL MASS: As of 5/24/12: Rotten Tomatoes: 76% positive reviews. Metacritic: 51/100. The reviews are largely positive..

COMPARISON SHOPPING: Driving Miss Daisy

MASERATI LOVERS: Philippe’s car is a Maserati Quattroporte and Driss gets to put it through it’s paces.

FINAL RATING: 9/10

NEXT: Happythankyoumoreplease