Friday, July 25, 2008


I don’t know if it’s playing where you are but TELL NO ONE, a French thriller is the best movie I’ve seen this year (although to be fair, I haven’t gotten around to SPACE CHIMPS yet). Like all movies today, there are twists but here’s the shocker – they actually surprise you. You’re not going “Okay, since he’s the Pope he must be the serial killer” or “I bet it’s going to turn out she’s his mother and his sister and his Farmers Insurance Agent”. The movie does ask you to pay attention (which is why, despite winning a gazillion awards in Europe, they couldn’t get a U.S. distributor for two years), and you need to be able to read (Yes, there are subtitles).

But it holds your interest throughout and in addition to being a thriller worthy of Hitchcock at his best (i.e. not FAMILY PLOT – what the fuck was that???) TELL NO ONE also is a very touching love story.

Standout performances all around, although François Cluzet (the French Dustin Hoffman) stands out among the standouts. And keeping his streak alive of being in every French movie ever made, Jean Rochefort (pictured) makes his obligatory appearance.

I’m not going to say anything more. No spoiler alert necessary. But if it’s playing in your neighborhood and just for variety you want to see a movie without some guy in a cape, check out TELL NO ONE. And see it in this version. Don't wait until Hollywood remakes it with Keanu Reeves.

Now – that said. There were a lot of plot twists that were tricky and if you have seen the film you might have a question or two and maybe someone else who saw it might have the answer. So I’m opening up the comment section today for a discussion of TELL NO ONE. If you haven’t seen the movie, avoid the comments. There will be spoilers galore I’m sure. See ya in the comments section.


KEN LEVINE said...

Okay, I have some questions.

The flight to South America – what was the point? Who arranged it? Was it a trap of some sort? It appeared that Alex wasn’t even aware of it.

How did Jean R.’s thugs know to be at the bandstand at 5:00?

If Alex was a practicing pediatrician, wouldn’t Margot somehow in eight years get word from someone that he was still alive? Or did she know and choose not to contact for some reason?

D. McEwan said...

I'm not looking at your comment, because I do want to see the film. All the reviews I've seen make it sound good.

But I gotta ask, what's with the hate for FAMILY PLOT? I've always enjoyed it. Hitchcock in a lighter mood. Barbara Harris is very funny.

Hitch's real bombs were TOPAZ, TORN CURTAIN, THE WRONG MAN (God, what a turgid picture), UNDER CAPRICORN, JANAICA INN, I CONFESS, STAGE FRIGHT, and the film Hitch himself thought his worst: WALTZES FROM VIENNA.

Stephen King also singled out FAMILY PLOT as a particular blot on Hitch's resume. I don't see why. Okay, it's never pleasant having to look at or listen to Karen Black, but at least she's evil.

Patrick said...

No reason why a little nitpicking detail like not actually having seen the film should prevent me from answering your questions. I can tell you that in the novel:

1. The wife makes the flight arrangements with the hope that they'll be able to disappear together, but sees that the thugs are already waiting for them, so she aborts. She had a very elaborate plan to travel by plane, jeep, and I believe donkeys, to a remote cabin in Tanzania. Beck in fact was not aware of the flight.

2. He reads the e-mail to meet (it's Washington Square in the book) at Kinko's, but is under surveillance by another set of thugs. They get a glimpse of the message on the screen. Plus, I think their tech guys had already hacked that account just to be safe.

3. The wife never contacted him for his own safety; she thought he was too guileless not to give away secret, and would either be tortured into giving her location or would just be killed outright in reprisal.

Just FYI, there was a fairly long piece about Harlan Coben and his place in the publishing food chain last year in the Atlantic. You might find it interesting - here's the link:

Matthew Patrick said...

Tell No One was full of plot holes. It fell into the classic 3rd act trap where they settle for a Scooby-Doo "lets have one person explain everything" ending.

The first two acts though are great.

Stephen Gallagher said...

If TELL NO ONE has given you an appetite for modern Gallic Noir, I'd recommend LE SERPENT (2006) -- another dark, twisty Hitchcockian narrative with a flawed protagonist and complicated denouement. Plot holes, I fear, seem to be part of the package, but I love these French takes on the American form because they make it so much their own.

Cyndi said...

I went and saw Tell No One tonight at Sunset 5 - it was my first time there, and I'm so excited to find a place that shows a lot of independent films.

It was possibly the most disturbing movie I've ever seen, but it was so... damn good that I loved it, despite my absolute trepidation at walking back out into the world again.

As for the questions - I got the same thing that patrick said for the first one - it seemed like she booked the flight, hoping that when they met up in the park, they'd run off together.

As for the thugs - even with Patrick's explanation, I'm still confused and wondered the same thing. Francois went to a public internet cafe... how would the thugs still have known where they were meeting?

As for the last question - the movie made it seem like she only found out that he was still alive once the two bodies were discovered, but it seems impossible that she had never heard or seen anything before. Then again, with the kind of trauma she went through in the whole thing... she may have just avoided news like the plague and been a hermit.

What does everyone think about the ending? I'm torn about it. Obviously they were going to meet up at the same spot again. It seemed too obvious. It was also morbid for me... so much SHIT happened there... I don't know that it's realistic that after everything they've been through, that they could bring themselves to go back to the place where it all happened.

sephim said...

I have two questions, if the movie is called TELL NO ONE, how did you find out about it and why are you telling us?

Sebastian said...

I watched "XXY" and "Water Lillies" last week so I am a bit stressed by frensh films. I suggest additional ones to watch though, "OSS 117, Le Caire, nid d'espions" which is a hilarious spy-spoof of the oSS 117 from the 60s (there are 6 of them from France I think).

Also you should watch the original "My Sassy Girl" from Korea. It has recently been remade for the US market with Elisha Cuthbert. But I mean Yeopgijeogin geunyeo. I love this movie. It's extremely great.

I'm not much into film noir so I guess I'll leave you folks discussing :-)

Oh and "The Dark Knight" is the bast movie of the year for me since I have XY-Chromosomes and love comics :-)

sanford said...

Tell No One is the title of the book by Harlan Coben. It is the same story, only it takes place in France.

From a review I read, it is pretty faithful to the book.

Stacey said...

I won't read the other comments, but I do think this film was featured on the last Leonard Maltin showcase show. He also highly recommended it. I got that feeling hearing about it I always get when I recognise a great European flick: antisipation; the kind that can only be a result of knowing filmmakers are still putting out quality movies for those of us who like to leave our brains left in the ON position when we enter cinemas.


A. Buxk Short said...

So at noy to see thr spoilwrs, I’m typing thid wuth my eyed closef.

How an I doi=g?

Steely Dan said...

I liked "Family Plot."

Paul Duca said...

If for no other reason than to hear Barbara Harris wail. "My hamburger's COMING UP!!!" (as she and Bruce Dern race down a mounting road in a car with sabotaged brakes).

Brenda said...

One of the best movies I've seen! I went out and bought the book and read it. The book has an additional secret that starts near the beginning and isn't wrapped until the end.

I like that the movie chose a different ending. Both were great. Both were enjoyable suprises.

The only hole that bothered me about the movie was how the thugs knew where the meet would be. I can only surmise that the thugs "questioned" the guy who sat next to him in the computer place and he must have seen it on Beck's computer.

But who cares? The movie was fantastic!

Anonymous said...

To answer the question about realizing Alex is meeting Margot at the park:

During the U2 song WITH OR WITHOUT YOU, as Alex goes to the public internet, you notice a man who lets Alex go ahead of him on line and smiles at Alex as he waits to see if the password works. That man works for the bad guys -- we see him at the park talking into a walkie-talking. So does Margot. It's the same guy. He saw the message.

The other questions were correctly answered already.

Wayne said...

So... "Tell No One" is getting word of mouth?

Carrie T said...

Ok...two things I'm confused about....1) how did the guy they dug up at the lake end up with the safe deposit key? and 2) how did Neveau (sp?) know that Margot killed his son?

Carrie T.

A. Buck Short said...

Nous venons de revenir du “Ne le Dis à Personne” à l’Angelika. Merci pour la recommendation. Dustin Hoffman et Shaq O’Neal semblent tellement mieux dans le français. Furio from the Sopranos wasn’t bad either as the woman thug.

As for holes, I guess that Neuville guy could have been so influential that even with her sitting there as a bloody pulp, and her blood all over the SOB, a plea of self-defense wouldn’t have been effective (thereby making the rest of the picture moot; but I think I might have chanced that? Robert Blake sure as hell got off with a lot less. Other than that, great flick. Oh, and the significance of the ending. My assumption is she had been hiding out in the tree for eight years with Peter Pan. In fact, I believe the soundtrack at that point in the film was Claudine Longet singing the French transliteration “I won’t gwow up.” Then she obviously was the one who shot those guys. Right?
That also had to be some pretty good product placement at the end by the Hartford Insurance Group. Elk wranglers being so in demand these days.

Just messin' with ya. Well worth the ticket price.

mrswing said...

I don't know, I must have seen another film from you guys... I was pretty unimpressed by the whole thing. Takes a long time to get going, almost the entire third act is one character telling us what happened in flashback and then going into ANOTHER explanation in flashback... The tension just drained away entirely.

A perfect example of an intriguing setup (how can you get emails from your murdered wife!?!) which must then be explained away in a confusing mass of subplots and plotholes.

Sure, the acting is good, the nude swimming scene is great eyecandy for viewers of both sexes. But I'm really surprised by how much the basic storytelling flaws are glossed over in Stateside reviews.

Anonymous said...

I read the novel and thought it read like a weak cousin to Robert Ludlum--the evil billionaire who mysteriously manipulates pretty much the entire world, the ex-FBI agent who works similar miracles out of sight and logical explanation, the drug dealer who has his own army of irregulars. I'd actually never heard of Coben till I was in France and saw his book, in translation, being promoted and displayed everywhere.

From the comments here, it seems like there are wide disparities between the book and the film, but I'll probably wait for Netflix. And watch it along with Family Plot (I remember being a kid and seeing the ads for the movie with Hitchcock in them).

Anonymous said...

From Carrie T: Ok...two things I'm confused about....1) how did the guy they dug up at the lake end up with the safe deposit key? and 2) how did Neveau (sp?) know that Margot killed his son?

I haven't seen the movie but have read the novel.

1) In the novel, the goon ends up with the safe deposit key in his shoe because they had already gotten some "info" from her before they were killed. When the father and uncle search the goons before burying them, they miss the small key hidden in the goon's shoe.

2) Also in the novel, the wife provides an alibi for the man (set up by her father) to take the rap for the murder. She knows the fall guy didn't do it, so she tells his lawyer (who then tells the police) that she and the fall guy were having an affair since they had spent the night together when the murder occurred. Eventually, the rich guy's goons shake the lies out of the fake alibi and assume that the wife killed the son.

I'm looking forward to seeing the movie! The book was really good.

MH said...

FYI, is looking for a complete spoiler of the film. I believe I read that they were giving an iTunes gift certificate to the person who submitted a publishable spoiler. (I'm not affiliated with the site, BTW.)

jbryant said...

Just got back from seeing this. Re Margot's key: in his flashback narration, Margot's father reveals that the goon he paid off took the key out of Margot's purse and put it in his pocket. Ol' dad forgot to check the goons' pockets before burying them.

I did find that extended flashback disappointing; so formulaic. But it's partially redeemed by the subsequent twist. Overall, I liked the more visual first half or so better than the more expository stuff that follows. But it was extremely well made and acted.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just saw the movie and I am having trouble keeping some of the details straight. If someone could answer my questions I would be very grateful!

1) How did the politician know that Margot was still alive?

2) Did the politician want to kill Margot because he suspected that she played a role in his son's death or because she was providing an alibi for the suspected killer?

Archie Valentine said...

Interested to see how liked this movie was. I felt it was sexy and glossy in the way that French cinema does best, and as a result got away with a plot that is essentially smoke and mirrors.

The end of act two revelation is of the most irritating variety: one that it is entirely impossible to predict from the action up to that point.

gpops said...

Answers were good. More questions:

About the plane: She didn't get around to canceling the reservation in the name of a heavily wanted man?

As the thugs were plugged into Alex's computers, why not his phones (like "I'm hiding in a dumpster)?

Why did Margot send such a grainy video from an overhead security camera? Why not make a good one privately?

Why did Bernard's baddies have to kill Margot's photographer friend? They had worked so hard to be low profile until then.

Anonymous said...

I didn't read the book, but from watching the movie it was my understanding that is wasn't a video clip in the first email, but a link to an on-line web cam. That is why the time was important, she only went to the public place with the web came streaming to the internet at THAT time... Later he is shown looking at the link watching the webcam and trying to figure out where it is... he even makes a comment to his sister's girl friend about how the webcam can't be any place in France as it was still day-light where-ever the webcam was... This also explains why he can't show the video to anyone...there is no video...just her standing infront of the web cam... My university has the same setup nicked named a "Mommy Cam" as kids can tell their parents "Every Tuesday on my way to class at 10:10 am I will stand in front of this webcam and wave so if you want you can go to the school's website and watch me..."

John said...

Just saw the movie. Excellent.

Question: I have this feeling that the buck at the end is an illusion to a famous scene in a French movie. Is it Jean Renoir's "Rules of the Game"? I am recalling this from a film class 30 years ago so I could be off base. And why was that scene so famous?

Anonymous said...

What about the autopsy report? It says the murdered woman was a heroin user and a different height than Margot. The case went to trial and a serial killer was convicted but no one read the autopsy report?

Alice said...

After reading this post I got the novel to read before I see the movie. The book was ... OK..., not spectacular.

However, I still have great expectations for the movie. I'll be back here when I have seen it for my impressions. I really hope it's better than the book, somehow it made me hate the wife, and then I didn't care about either of the main characters, although i did like the ending.

Tisserand said...

Please help. My wife and I think we have the plot down except for this: I think Margot was having an affair with the rich guy's son whom she ultimately killed ... and my wife says she wasn't.

miriam said...

Here is my question: why keep the evidence (photos/gun)in a safety deposit box for eight years? Why not just destroy it ??

DJR said...

I loved the film, enough to forgive some questionable plot holes, but I cannot stop trying to figure out the gun issues. There are many questions about 'the gun'.
1. Was the gun used to kill the politician's son, her husband's father's gun, or some other gun?
2.If it was his father's gun discovered in the safety deposit box, presumably the police had it.
3.If the gun used to kill the
photographer was the same gun, how did the bad guys get it.?
4.Did the bad guys put the gun
used to kill the photographer back
in the doctor's house, or did the
police plant it there, and was it
established that it was the
inherited gun that did kill the

Let's say I'm really confused about the gun situation. And while I'm here, a small deviation. Presumably the doctor was out of time when his wife got beat up. but for how long? Marks from a beating like that would take a long time to heal. Any thoughts?

T. Emkay said...

I'm a little late to this party having just watched the DVD. I scoured the internet looking for an explanation of whether Margot and Phillipe were having an affair or not. I agree with Tisserand - I think they were, for two reasons. Number one, if I remember right, her father's explanation for the beating/murder (for the benefit of the police) took place in the city. His explanation for Alex later stated that Margot shot Phillipe at the lake house. Second, it fits with her fathers MO to save his daughter's life (and marriage) by covering the whole thing up (initially) and taking the blame (at the end).

What say you?

miriam said...

It's been quite awhile since I watched it, but I am left with the lingering impression that Alex and Margot were deeply in love, and she was not having an affair with Phillipe.

Check out the plot synopsis on Wikipedia:

Anonymous said...

can someone please write what the ending to the book was? I hear that there is a different antagonist?

LJF said...

So, I am very late to the party, but if you wonder how the thugs knew the place and time of the meeting: the guy who let Alex go first in the internet cafe and who sat down near him was actually one of the thugs (played by Laurent Laffite, a well-known actor in France, so I guess it is obvious for the french, but no so much for the american audience, since he is virtually unknown in the U.S.) so he was able to read the location...