Going In:

I dig crime movies, especially those that don’t shy away from complexity.  I hate when they leave doors opens for sequels or audience interpretation.  That usually means “we don’t know how to write a good ending”.

Netflix predicted that I’d rate this an extremely rare 4.8/5.  Their suggestion system is very accurate for me, since I’ve been a long-time subscriber and have rated everything I’ve ever seen.  This film languished in my queue for years because the description sounds very generic, and I rarely feel like reading subtitles after being up to my eyeballs in C++ all day.  But fellow MasterCritic writer Tim recommended I watch it immediately, so here we are.

Review:

Dr. Alexandre Beck’s wife is murdered while they are vacationing in the French countryside. He is beaten and left for dead. The attack is ultimately pinned on a serial killer, despite the police believing it was staged by Beck. Eight years later, two bodies are unearthed nearby and Beck becomes a suspect once again. Soon after, he begins to receive covert message hinting at information about his late wife. It becomes a race to track down the truth about his wife and prove his innocence in the murders.

Tell No One is based on a Harlan Coben novel of the same name.  The film version of Beck is played well by François Cluzet, who I previously knew only as “that French Dustin Hoffman-lookin’ guy”. He is supported well by a great cast – Kristin Scott Thomas even plays his sister, speaking perfect French. And here I thought she was typecast into the exceedingly-charming British cinema scene. (It turns out she married French, is fluent in French, lives in France, and loves french fries.)

To say that Tell No One feels like The Fugitive is an easy comparison, but this film’s protagonist is a much more realistic character, not the brilliant and physically heroic role that Harrison Ford played.  Beck’s down-to-earth persona makes it easy for viewers to put themselves in his shoes, making the narrative very compelling.

The shot direction does a great job of relating the past to the present, often without words. Early on, there’s a fantastic day-dreaming sequence where Beck is remembering the happiness of their wedding day and the sadness of her funeral, intermixing images of the same people at both events but showing very different faces. Subtle work like this gives the audience a strong emotional connection, which makes the film’s events all the more powerful.

The script and director take the time to build the doctor’s relationship with his wife, so that the loss feels real to the audience. It allows you to get into his head and share his desire to find out the truth. The pacing is spot-on, keeping you fully engaged from start to finish, often on the edge of your seat.

Towards the end, I thought I had it all figured out but it still threw me for a final loop. (And not the cheap kind where they introduce new elements that no one in the audience could have anticipated).  Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that all of my questions were answered and that all loose threads are tied up. Satisfaction achieved!

Bonus (not a spoiler):  I want to thank the story writers for featuring a dog in the movie that doesn’t get killed  solely for a cheap emotional reaction from the audience. So rare these days.

Conclusion:

I’m telling everyone that Tell No One is one of the best mystery thrillers I’ve seen in years. If you have a Netflix streaming account, this ought to be near the top of your queue.

After-note: there’s been movement in Hollywood to remake Tell No One using American talent.  It will be difficult to do this film any better, and I predict the U.S. version would only dumb down the mystery plot in order to introduce some explosions and hack 30 minutes out of the running time.  Just don’t.

Tell No One Review
Storytelling9
Craftsmanship8
Performances7.5
Satisfaction9
The Good
  • Excellent, believable story with many twists and turns
  • The novel's author prefers the film's ending to his own
  • Keeps you guessing all the way to the end
The Bad/Ugly
  • Not-so-great work on aging the actors
  • Easy to miss important plot points if you step away for 2 seconds
8.4Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0

About The Author

Justin

I'm a video game programmer, just like Chev Chelios. I've loved movies all of my life, favor substance over style, and try to have high standards and an open mind.

  • http://mastercritic.com/ Tim

    Great review, I’m glad you enjoyed it! It’s rare that movies actually earn their twists and surprises. I hope Hollywood stays far away from this one.