The dog will piss on your career

When you hear talk of hits at the cinema this summer, it's all Batman this and Iron Man that. Chances are, nobody's going to mention a thriller that's two years old, stars nobody famous and is in a different language. And yet, 'Tell No One' has already played at my local arthouse, and is - get this! - coming back due to popular demand. On a more national scale, even the Hollywood Reporter has called the film a word-of-mouth hit. For a foreign film to push close to $4m in domestic box office with barely any advertising is pretty spectacular.

And so it should be, because 'Tell No One' is fantastic. The plot follows a solid, old-fashioned arc: man hears his wife scream, goes to investigate, gets knocked unconscious and when he comes around, she's dead. Eight years later, he's not really moved on, and finds himself the prime suspect of (possibly serial) murder. It turns into a French 'The Fugitive' as the mild mannered doctor tries to prove his innocence, whilst being chased most of the time, with only one cop who believes in his innocence. Also, his wife might actually be alive, I should probably mention that.

The plot is dense, too dense, and there are plenty of "wait, what?" moments, and there is a clunky big exposition/explanation scene at the end. Yet none of this gets in the way of the film being incredibly tense and watchable. And the scene where the doctor is running down the street with an adorable huge, shaggy dog, while 'With or Without You' plays is disarmingly cute. Contrast this with the incredible footchase scene across one of Paris' busiest streets, or the very intense scene of a woman getting beaten. It's a heavy film but incredibly rewarding.

The characterization is really intricate and well thought out, with even minor roles being well thought out, like the neighbourhood tough guy who helps the doctor when he's on the run, or the terrifying torture specialist who knows pressure points and inflicts max damage. Francois Cluzet is great (and Cesar-winning) as the doctor, pulling off young Dustin Hoffman looks with genuine anger and confusion at being wrongly accused. Marie-Josee Cruze, not content with being in this year's other amazing French film, does well as the enigmatic is-she-isn't-she wife. And Kristin Scott-Thomas has a nice turn as the doc's confidante.

The film is still playing at cinemas in the U.S. though it may be hard to find. It's expected on DVD in November here, but I do believe it's out in Europe already. Check it out, make it an even bigger hit.


Matt said...

For a moment I saw John Cusack and Jennifer Garner.

Samir said...

I read that the rights have been bought for an English language remake... so I predict Ashley Judd and.. Luke Wilson?

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