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A Closet Packed With Skeletons
by Scott Tunstall

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Whatever happened to the good old fashioned mystery? It's a genre that has been severely lacking in recent years. Movies like EAGLE EYE and DEJA VU masquerade as mysteries, but ultimately they fail to achieve the standards of a true whodunit. I guess they deserve credit for trying, although being loud and intense can't substitute for a well-written script and clever plotting. When I think of quality mysteries, films like ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN and THE CONVERSATION come to mind. It seems no one is willing or capable of producing intelligent, high quality stories on the same level as those seminal masterpieces. Well, at least not in Hollywood. The best mystery I've seen in years comes from France. It's called TELL NO ONE and it takes you on one helluva ride.

TELL NO ONE - 2006

Eight years ago, Alexandre Beck's wife Margot was murdered near a lake in the woods. Alexandre has never fully recovered from the tragedy,
Happier times.

Happier times.
so when he receives an anonymous email from who be believes is Margot, his suspicions are raised. The discovery of two bodies buried near where Margot was found dead further enhances Alexandre's assertion Margot may still be alive. The police re-open the case, but just like eight years before, their leading suspect is Alexandre. While attempting to clear his name and uncover the truth, Alexandre is framed for murder and pursued by an unknown group who have a keen interest in whether or not Margot is in fact dead. What follows is a complex game of cat and mouse that will open a vault filled with secrets, lies and betrayal.

Writer/Director Guillaume Canet unravels a detailed plot that will keep you guessing throughout. He puts the audience directly in the shoes of Alexandre. We know what he knows. There is no spoon-feeding of clues or misplaced hints along the way. Alexandre must learn to adapt on the fly and improvise during several perilous situations.
She's alive, I know it.

She's alive, I know it.
The mild-mannered pediatrician is forced to get his hands dirty in order to save himself. His actions may seem unrealistic at points, but they are completely justifiable when the magnitude of the conspiracy is taken into account. The survival instinct takes control when backed into a corner. Canet gives his protagonist an appropriate amount of leeway to find the answers he seeks. This vivid exploration into man's capabilities when properly pushed is what makes the film resonate.

The pacing resembles THE FUGITIVE. Canet accelerates the action with a heart-pounding foot chase sequence that rivals those from THE FIRM and CASINO ROYALE. The violence is sharp and brutal but isn't glorified or celebrated. Canet's camera is a steady observer; it has a story to tell, but only through the eyes of Alexandre. It captures the bucolic countryside and congested streets from a distance, never venturing too close, reminding us there 
On the run.

On the run.
is something hidden we cannot yet see. Be it an empty wooden dock or a crowded public park, the feeling that someone else is watching is impossible to shake. It adds discomfort to an already unnerving film.

Music proves integral as well. U2's "With or Without You" serves as a critical plot device, and a beautiful montage set to Jeff Buckley's haunting cover of "Lilac Wine" provides a glimpse into Alexandre's tortured soul. An excellent cast is anchored by Francois Cluzet and Kristen Scott Thomas. Cluzet plays Alexandre as angry and confused; it's difficult not to root for a character who must endure such feats. Scott Thomas is stalwart as usual as Helene, Alexandre's sole friend and confidante. My only quibble with TELL NO ONE is the lengthy end scene that explains all. It came off as slightly pedantic and too convenient for such an enigmatic story. However, it's nowhere near enough to spoil a truly great mystery. I suggest you tell everyone about TELL NO ONE.

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Eye On The Overlooked
Every other Sunday

A lot of great movies slip through the cracks. I'm here to catch them.

Other Columns
Other columns by Scott Tunstall:

High School Can Be Murder

A Wolf In Girl's Clothing

Southern Hospitality

Ten Great Films From the 2000s

Down With The System

All Columns

Scott Tunstall
Scott is a freelance writer currently living in the Southeast. He is a film school grad with a love of theory and screenwriting. His tastes vary from obscure niche films to giant Hollywood blockbusters. In other words, he'll watch pretty much anything.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Scott Tunstall by clicking here.

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