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LOSTATSEA.NET > FEATURES >

September 24, 2008
RATING: 8/10
So, I think I have a real problem expressing emotion. If my mother is reading this right now she is no doubt spitting out her warm spiced milk, or whatever it is that moms drink, and smacking her head in disbelief that I JUST NOW realized this. Well, I didn't JUST NOW realize it, MOM. OK? I'm just saying, the amount of tears that I shed during the new French "thriller" Tell No One was uncanny. I have trouble crying at funerals or weddings, but this fictional story - a story that, honestly, isn't that stirring - causes fat, salty tears to roll uncontrollably down my face all the way home? Something is wrong with me.



Or is there? The answer, my friends, for why a murder-mystery can make me emote so passionately lies in all of the other elements of the film besides the story. And those other elements, after all, are what make a film a film, instead of just a plot summary. Writer and director Guillaume Canet has basically created an example for film teachers everywhere to reference when explaining the power of film. For this plot could have easily been done big-budget style, with huge stars, car chases, impressive explosions, a swelling score, and a twist ending. It's got "summer action blockbuster" written all over it: a guy's wife was murdered years ago and he's going to get to the bottom of it all, natch. You can just picture Tommy Lee Jones closing in on Mel Gibson on top of the Golden Gate Bridge or something, right before the climax.



Instead, Canet shows us that spectacular filmmaking can make even a feature-length Law and Order episode a thing of beauty and resonance. Just like Wall-E made us forget that we were watching an animated kid flick, Tell No One uses a tonal, lonely score (by Mathieu Chedid) to highlight cinematography that sets out to depict exactly what it is like to be a grieving, desperate human being. Part of me thinks that this is why my heartstrings were pulled taut for over two hours - filmmakers can sometimes better express life than life itself can. That is to say, I might read about an amazing feat like that of protagonist Alex Beck's in the news, but it's highly unlikely that I will hear the music playing in his head as he internally jumbles remembered images from his wife Margot's funeral and their wedding years prior. I mean, this is nothing new. Narrative art forms exist for that purpose, to bring life closer to our understanding by presenting it in different ways. But it certainly doesn't take shape like this every day.



No, sir. This is a film with its heart on its sleeve. Its special effects are startling close ups, terrific acting (wait until Francois Cluzet's perpetual mask of incredulity changes in an instant), and a simple flash of light through the trees here and there. Canet does a splendid job proving the old "less is more" adage - so splendidly that I can't think of anything funny to say. Tell No One is fantastic. It has been playing in a limited number of theaters in the US, and is certainly worth tracking down. Now, go get in touch with your emotions, and we can go right back to being awkward and snarky afterwards, I promise.

SEE ALSO: www.tellnoonemovie.com
SEE ALSO: www.musicboxfilms.com

--
Susan Howson
A staff writer attending graduate school in Richmond, VA, Susan Howson cannot be persuaded to stop talking about movies.

See other articles by Susan Howson.

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