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Ne le dis à Personne (Tell No One) (2006): In the Lake of the Woods

Ne le dis à Personne (Tell No One) (Guillaume Canet, 2006)

Francois Cluzet runs towards the outline of a woman on the movie poster.

Run, Alex, Run.
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My spreadsheet tells me I watched twenty-eight movies during the month of March 2012. (I don’t keep specific notes on duration, but I believe twenty-five of them were features and three were shorts/two-reelers) It is now two years later—two years!—and the last of those films I have yet to review is Tell No One. (It is currently the oldest thing sitting on the review queue, and I think this is the longest I have ever let anything go without reviewing it.) The odd thing is that I have no idea why it has taken me this long. Two movies I watched that month got four and a half start ratings (The Turin Horse and Metropolis) and one got four stars (Army of Shadows); three and a half is next down the list, and Tell No One sits solidly in the three-and-a-half star category. It’s a very competent adaptation of a book I was quite fond of, made all the more impressive that it was the first feature-length script from an actor (not to mention the third feature directed by Canet, also best known as an actor); well-acted, well-presented, and a great deal of fun…and yet I never managed to find a blessed thing to write about it.

Two hands carve initials inside a heart on a tree in a still from the film.

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Plot: in the opening scene, Alex Beck (The Intouchables‘ François Cluzet) and his wife Margot (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly‘s Marie-Josée Croze) are celebrating their anniversary at a secluded lake. After a minor tiff, Margot swims off. Alex dozes off, only to be startled by hearing Margot scream. He swims back to land to find her and is knocked unconscious. Fast-forward eight years. Alex has been exonerated, though he was the prime suspect in his wife’s still-unsolved murder. He is getting along day to day, but today is different. Two things happen that threaten to send Alex’s world spinning out of control. First, the police contact him. They have discovered two bodies that had been buried at the lake. With them is a bat spattered with blood that matches Alex’s; they believe it to be the bat with which he was knocked unconscious. Second, he gets a mysterious email…that may be from Margot. Is she trying to point Alex to her killer from beyond the grave? Or, since Alex never saw the body, is it possible the whole thing was an elaborate hoax?

Alex stares off into the distance in a still from the film.

“Somewhere out there is Hollywood…and I’m gonna be a star!”
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I got the feeling throughout of Prime Suspect. That’s not a derogatory statement; to me Prime Suspect was one of TV’s best mystery shows. The commonality between them, to me, is that both are able to put together very solid characters without sacrificing pace. And, as a side note, understanding that the pace of something like this doesn’t have to be breakneck 100% of the time to keep the tension ratcheted. Tell No One is not a slow film by any means, but it is deliberately-paced for most of its length. Every once in a while Canet uncorks the heavy stuff, but more as an exclamation point than a plot point. It all works, it’s not predictable (at least I didn’t find it so), and it’s a very good time. Still available on Netflix Instant Streaming as I write this in March 2014, and well worth checking out. *** ½


About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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