Now, before I can do anything else this day, before I can even eat, I have to undo a justice that has been placed upon a film. Because so many critics have given the film Tell No One, the French thriller, you may feel you have to go see it. If this urge comes over you, fight it at all costs!
Instead stay at home and read one of a million crime novels that tread exactly the same waters beat for beat, then watch LA Confidential, The Constant Gardner or Gone Baby Gone. All superior thrillers that re better on their tenth viewing than Tell No One could ever hope to be on it’s first.
In the first 8 minutes of the film something happens, though we don’t know what, and we don’t care. Why? Because we haven’t been given a reason to care about any of the characters. They don’t talk like humans they talk in clues, setting things up so when we get to a point later in the film we can say, Oh, that’s what they were talking about.
Cut to black from this lame cliffhanger of exposition, then cut to eight years later where we get even more exposition doled through terrible dialogue that only serves to tell us what we didn’t see 8 years ago. It’s trite, obligatory and boring
After two bodies are found near where this mysterious event occured, the main character Dr. Alex (for short) is under suspicion again for the death that occurred that night…okay, the death of his wife. Which we don’t see, which he doesn’t see. And it doesn’t matter as the only connection we have with her is that she was shown naked. How could someone kill such a beautiful looking woman?
So now he has to clear his name. What transpires is Dr. Alex running around from one character actor to another asking questions. At the beginning he’s seen saving helping out a thug and his son, the thug gives him his number and says if you ever need anything, so it’s no surprise when Dr. Alex calls said thug, and of course the thug takes him into the under world. It reeks of a stale Chinatown rip off.
In fact that’s the problem with the whole film, it’s stale. You’re never given a reason to want to find out what happened that night. And as the film progresses there are so many convoluted sidelines Dr. Alex has to follow to find out what really happened to his wife and none of them end up furthering the story in any way. One of these being that somone says she had an affair with someone (The Constant Gardner anyone?), so he goes to find out if that’s true from someone else, who says it is, but he doesn’t believe it anyway! Ya, you go Dr. Alex! So why did we waste two scenes following a lead he ends up not believing anyway!? It’s shoddy storytelling.
Much has been talked about concerning the great chase sequence about half way through. It’s okay, but that’s only because the rest of the film is so boring and emotionally inept that you’ll go for any kind of kinetic energy.The Fugitive had that same kinetic energy and actually allowed you to see these characters really affected by the things that were happening to them rather than bouncing around where the writer thought the next bit of information should come from.
Even Roger Ebert qualifies his love for the movie with this statement:
“Tell No One” will play as a terrific thriller for you, if you meet it halfway. You have to be willing to believe. There will be times you think it’s too perplexing, when you’re sure you’re witnessing loose ends. It has been devised that way, and the director knows what he’s doing.
So, it doesn’t not make sense, but it’s been devised not to make sense, which I guess now is a device for good storytelling?
The reveal to this devised bit of loose ends and wasted time is so long-winded that it’s 15 minutes of exposition in the third act of the film, followed by even more exposition becasue the first bit of exposition wasn’t completley correct. When you do find out you really don’t care because none of it has to do with anything the characters were shown to care about through out the film as in The Constant Gardner. And finally, the last shot is so ridiculously and emotionally contrived you feel more punished by the experience than entertained.