Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Artful and involving (Film - Tell No One)
Tell No One is a film that has everything - a good mystery, suspense, a great chase scene, a good love story, and terrific acting. Now, how often have you heard me say that? It is French, yes, so some of you might be stuck reading subtitles, but long passages of sophisticated dialogue are not the point here so you won't be reading much - this is a film built on plot. The plot is dense and intricate but the film does a great job of mapping it out - this is one of its strengths - it is clear what was done and by whom, but it doesn't accomplish that by presuming you're stupid. Director/co-writer Guillaume Canet knows how to use film to tell a complex story, flashbacks are used effectively, he employs an early memory of the central character to great effect. Music is used beautifully to convey atmosphere and to emphasize action with lyrics which specifically reference plot (he used a Jeff Buckley track of Lilac Wine which I love, so I admit to being biased). He writes scenes that concisely convey character so that the viewer immediately knows with whom they are dealing, but subsequent scenes continue to develop character, sometimes to build upon what we know already, other times to surprise us by contradicting it. I found that when the central character is on the run, I didn't just care because he was the lead - I cared about him because Canet established his kindness, his vulnerability not by formula - but through character detail - through human interaction that showed us what kind of man he was. And Francois Cluzet embodies that writing as a person rather than a film "character." That's what I appreciated most, how free the film was of cliche. The film also benefits from good casting - Nathalie Baye and Kristin Scott Thomas (who acts in French, I didn't know she could!) are very strong, and Cluzet gives a particularly subtle and open performance. This is film making of the strongest kind - artful and involving without being lofty - it's good film making for everybody.