Archive for March 2, 2011

If your answer to the question in the header is NO, then Gyandeep Pattnayak feels awful about it. He really does.  And so, here is a recco post by him, why you should watch it and make Gyandeep feel better when he asks the same question next time. Read on…..

Every time, I used to hear someone say, “You should see this murder mystery. It’s damn bleak, man.” – I was reminded of 36 China Town. I don’t know why. No, it doesn’t mean that I considered 36 China Town to be CINEMA at all. It doesn’t even qualify to be a tele-serial which Ekta Kapoor can produce in order to re-invent herself. Anyway, I digress.

What is a good murder mystery, in your opinion? Something which is plausible, something which makes you go, ‘Whoa’ and something which ties up all the loose ends neatly. But most importantly, a better murder mystery is one which lures you all along and just when you think you’ve figured it all out, it pulls the rug from beneath your feet and makes you think, “Christ, only if there were more movies like this.”

Guillame Canet’s Ne le dis à personne or Tell No One is exactly that kind of a film. And more than just that, if you will.

Let me try to be as brief and as careful as possible while I try to give you an idea of what this film is all about. The film opens with a terrific scene in which our protagonist Alexandre, a doctor by profession, drives along with his wife Margot to a lake. They swim, have fun, make love, bicker and eventually get into a heated argument. Margot, hurt and angry, jumps into the lake and swims to the other side. Alexandre waits for a while longer and senses something is wrong. As he gets ready to take a jump into the lake, somebody knocks him unconscious. He wakes up to find his wife brutally murdered.

The story cuts forward to eight years later. Alexandre carries on with his mundane life, still haunted by the memories of that fateful night. One day, suddenly, too many things happen at once. Alexandre is implicated in a double homicide. All evidence pins him down as the one and only suspect. Simultaneously, he gets a mail from his “wife” Margot – the very same Margot who has been dead for eight years. The mail has a video link in which “Margot” can be seen, hale and hearty – although, it isn’t very clear enough to determine whether or not she is his dead wife. The mail also contains a note which is chillingly mysterious and reads – “Tell no one. They’re watching.” Before Alexandre can piece together what’s happening, he finds himself running – from the law and from someone who doesn’t want him to find the truth.

So much for being as brief as possible.

Adapted from author Harlan Coben’s bestselling novel of the same name, this movie remains largely unseen by audiences. It would not be unfair if I said this is the rare case in which the film excels the novelization of the same story. The climax has been tweaked or rather, has been made more reasonable. Why Hollywood wasn’t first in the queue to adapt this book beats me. That a French guy named Guillaume Canet (actor, husband of the very gorgeous Marion Cottilard) has gone ahead and done it is not only laudable but also a befitting reminder, if we needed any, of the fact that the very finer aspects of cinema lie in the writing. Canet , along with Philipe Lefebvre, has written the screenplay which could serve as a tutorial for budding writers. He also enacts a small but integral character in the movie. If the word multitasking were to be used in this context, it suits him to the T. Multitasking and efficient.

Murder mysteries like these not only tend to be formulaic and ordinary, 99 times out of 100, they actually ARE formulaic and ordinary. Red herrings, cheating climaxes, a random murderer (here’s where the butler and housekeeper in 36 China Town come into the frame) – you name it.

So, how different is Tell No One? Different isn’t the word you would normally like to associate with a movie as restrained and as suspenseful as Tell No One. Trust me, I want to tell you every bit of the film but that would not make a whole lot of sense. As I sit here, typing out this recommendation, my fingers want to point out why this film is more recommendable than others in this done-to-death genre. And that would be a sacrilege. That would mean giving the movie away.

Let’s just say, Things are not as simple as they seem to be in the movie. Everything happens for a reason and everything is deeply rooted in the family, its past, its actions and the reverberations of those actions. The suspense in this movie is not crafted; it ties its own knots and weaves the fabric of an intricately laid out tale of love, lies and deceit.

I hate talking about movie climaxes but Tell No One compels me to write something about it. I will give you one piece of advice. Don’t try thinking too much about what is happening. There are people, who, while seeing the movie along with me, were trying to second-guess the whole time. Please. Don’t. Do. That. Relax, watch the movie and let the twists catch you off-guard. That way, the impact will be brutal. And yes, don’t let any douchebag tell you the ending. That will stink.

Francois Cluzet beautifully underplays his part but really it would be a crime to say so little about the man who makes melancholia his own. When we see him eight years later, his eyes are saggy, drooping and we forget that it is Cluzet. We forget that he is an actor. Such is the hypnotic power of his performance. Marie-Josee Croze, as Margot, is hauntingly beautiful and she brings certain believability to her part, which is entirely to her own credit. What is it about these French actors? Why are they always so good even if they are in an equally bad film?

To make a film half as good as this one is an achievement. I hope you can figure what it would be like to make a fuller such film. This film stands right there – amongst the great, modern murder mysteries such as Mystic River, The Secret in Their Eyes and Gone Baby Gone. Now, when people recommend me a good murder mystery, I promptly ask them, “Have you seen Tell No One?” It feels awful when they say no. It really does.