Friday, July 18, 2008

"Tell No One"

Guillaume Canet's twisty new thriller is both engrossing and ridiculous. This duality is perhaps best captured in the scenes whose suspense derives primarily from how long it takes an online video or other link to load. In such scenes, our hero, the long-grieving widower Alex, sits in front of his (Apple) computer and waits... and waits... while the little sideways thermometer thing slowly fills up, or the notorious rainbow ball turns, and turns, and turns. The plot isn't so much full of holes as packed with unlikely events, but this is the kind of film that ensnares you with high, almost operatic emotion, so that by the time things start getting dicey in terms of plausibility, the hook is already through your lip. The pulpy title, upsetting violence, and hard-to-swallow plot are offset nicely by some excellent acting, not least by François Cluzet, who plays Alex as frightened, determined, and furious in just the right proportions. Rarely have I seen a movie that so evenly splits the difference between trashy and arty, which in this case is a compliment. As summer thrillers go, it's a good one. And as character-driven suspense films in general go, it's hard to beat the French these days.