(BY ALI NADERZAD) After the success of his debut feature, My Idol, director Guillaume Canet brings to the screen his adaption of Harlan Coben’s best-seller Tell No One, slated for release in early July 2008. Canet, visiting recently in New York City, said, “I felt invested by the story. Each time I meet an actor I like, I want to work with them. With this story, I had lots of parts to hand out!” Canet assembled a distinguished cast: Marie-Josée Croze, André Dussolier, Kristin Scott Thomas (in the role of Beck’s lesbian friend) and Nathalie Baye join François de Cluzet, a popular actor’s actor equally at home in mainstream or art-house pictures. De Cluzet plays Alexandre Beck, a pediatric doctor who loses the love of his life to a mysterious band of mercenaries.
Beck and his wife (Croze) spend weekends in the French countryside. The gorgeous home by the lake they inhabit is also where they grew up, and snapshots of their childhood flash across the screen. But don’t be fooled by the sweet reminiscences of a tryst in the greens. Canet maintains a pulse-racing urgency, filling the screen with jaw-dropping foot pursuits, cruelly broken relationships and long-awaited reunions.
While the Becks, on a balmy night, have a nocturnal swim in the lake, intruders slip into the bushes nearby. Alexandre is whacked unconscious as he attempts to rescue his wife. When he emerges, later, from a coma, he discovers that his wife has disappeared – and he is suspected of having killed her. Eight years later, a video email from some mystery pen-pal reveals what he’d thought impossible: She’s alive! This discovery turns his life into a spine-tingling game of cat and mouse in which Beck is alternately pursuer and prey, exonerated and under suspicion.
In a heart-stopping scene worthy of any big-studio film, Beck runs from a pack of cops to make a very important rendezvous. He outruns them through several Paris blocks and across the periph’, France’s answer to the beltway. As Beck dances around the cars barreling down the expressway, sending frissons down your spine, the inevitable happens: cars ram into each other, turning this stretch of road into a blaring spectacle of metal and rubber.
This is no CGI. Shot with real cars and stuntmen, the scene makes the hairs on your arm stand up. (For gutsy chase scenes like this, you often have to look in overseas productions. Remember David Belle’s parkour jumps in B-13?) François de Cluzet’s performance is magnifique. When Canet closes in on his face, look carefully for that flicker of emotion passing over as the end of an eyebrow barely curls or a corner of his mouth pulls in. In de Cluzet, Canet resurrects a little of Patrick Dewaere (Canet counts Dewaere, who killed himself in his early 30s but was France’s most beloved actor, as his favorite actor). Said Canet, “I wanted someone [for the lead] as straight-up and spot-on as Patrick Dewaere – a real live wire. François doesn’t act; he lives things. I can’t imagine anybody else playing the part.”
The city of Paris also plays a part in Tell No One. The film’s many exterior scenes reveal the real Paris, showing a little more skin. When Beck hightails it across the Parisian skyline (he runs so fast he flies; whoever said smokers have no lung capacity?), the Parisian sights that roll by are not the usual ones like Place Vendôme or the Champs Elysées. “I like to show different aspects of Paris – suburban housing projects, flea markets, the beltway, Alex’s rundown neighborhood, and then swanky Avenue Montaigne and Parc Monceau,” Canet related. Different worlds collide over a backdrop of intrigue and lives wrecked – continuing to the final curtain. With Tell No One, Guillaume Canet further establishes himself as a fiercely inventive filmmaker (article previously appeared on Moving Pictures Magazine online)