Pulp Friction 

Tell No One Is A Gritty French Thriller

Adapted from Yank novelist Harlan Coben's 2001 best seller (six million copies sold in 27 languages), the diabolically crafty French-language thriller Tell No One manages to be quintessentially Gallic while still retaining the best and pulpiest qualities of American dime-store fiction. Considering the source material, it's a bit of a surprise Hollywood didn't beat director/co-writer Guillaume Canet to the punch. The box-office success of Tell No One virtually guarantees that an American remake is already in the works. And the great thing about Coben's book is that its crackerjack plotting and labyrinthian twists and turns could work in any language. Canet's retrofitted setting may be France, but upstate New York, northern California or even southern Italy would work equally well.

On the eighth anniversary of his wife's yet-unsolved murder, fortysomething pediatrician Alex Beck (an excellent Fran¬ćois Cluzet) begins receiving weird e-mails. After clicking on a webcam link, Alex sees a woman in surveillance-camera footage who bears an eerily uncanny resemblance to his late wife, Margot (Marie-Josée Croze, Jean-Dominique Bauby's speech therapist in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly). Since the police still consider him a prime suspect in Margot's death and because Alex remains Vertigo-obsessed with his late wife nearly a decade after her murder, he begins searching for the mystery lady on the video. Alex's sleuthing eventually uncovers a vast conspiracy that shakes him to his very foundations and nearly costs him his own life.

Superbly acted by a classy, all-star cast (including Nathalie Baye, Jean Rochefort and English Patient femme fatale Kristin Scott Thomas as Alex's most trusted friend), Tell No One also features a "can you top this?" chase sequence done without the aid of CGI that's superior to anything Hollywood has orchestrated since The French Connection. Who cares if the rococo denouement requires a healthy suspension of disbelief? Canet has made a psychological nail-biter so lip-smackingly satisfying that Hitchcock himself would be green with envy.

More by Milan Paurich


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