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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Tell No One (Blu-ray)
Tell No One (Blu-ray)
MPI Home Video // R // March 31, 2009 // Region A
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted March 25, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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The best
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thriller that Hitchcock never directed, Tell No One melds the "wrong man" premise that made Hitch a household name with Vertigo's hypnotic allure, sumptuous visuals, and the spectre of a lost love from days past. While too many American thrillers lean on drug-addled quick cutting, blaring techno beats, and over-the-top action setpieces to prop up a lack of suspense, this French import remains unrelentingly tense with far too much confidence in its craftsmanship to ever bother pandering.

Channeling Dustin Hoffman in his younger days, François Cluzet stars as Alexandre Beck, a pediatrician on holiday with his wife Margot (Marie-Josee Croze). She swims off towards the house after a short spat, and barely a few moments pass before Alexandre hears a muffled scream. Alex chases after her without hesitation, but he's quickly attacked as well, tumbling lifelessly into the lake behind him. As he briefly lays comatose, Margot's mutilated corpse is soon discovered. Eight years pass. Alex has yet to truly move on from his wife's grisly murder, never having pursued any sort of serious relationship and seemingly having few friends to speak of aside from his sister (Marina Hands) and her lover (Kristin Scott-Thomas). As the anniversary of Margot's murder approaches, Alex receives a strange e-mail asking him to point his browser to a particular webcam later that day. Looking directly at him from a tiny, pixelated window -- nearly a decade after her remains were cremated -- is Alex's late wife. Meanwhile, the recent discovery of several bloodied, battered bodies once again turns suspicions of murder towards Alex. As a pair of detectives prepare to mount an arrest and these messages continue to arrive from a woman long thought dead, Alex has no choice but to run.

Tell No One is everything a thriller ought to be. Its storytelling takes innumerable weaves and breakneck turns yet is too sharply written to ever be difficult for the attentive to follow. There isn't an inessential moment or character to be found. Taking as many cues from Anton Chekhov as from Hitchcock, everything that unfolds throughout Tell No One -- no matter how seemingly inconsequential -- eventually cements itself as an integral component. This is a densely plotted story that demands full attention, but it's woven with such skill and confidence that Tell No One never condescends to hold the audience's hand with clumsy exposition or letting the camera linger excessively on key plot points. Its storytelling is remarkably sleek and efficient, conveying as much through unspoken gestures in the performances and the skilled hand with which Guillaume Canet directs than through dialogue.

Tell
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No One
isn't particularly interested in any sort of struggle between an unflappable hero and some stock villain who's been masterminding this sprawling conspiracy. The eventual reveal almost seems to be beside the point, really; the film is far more compelled by the relationships between these wonderfully written and well-realized characters than some deliriously over-the-top action climax, and Tell No One is able to establish an enormous amount of tension and suspense without turning to the traditional, trite touchstones too often tread on these shores. Its most incendiary sequence -- a masterfully crafted chase on foot that culminates in Alex throwing himself into breakneck midday traffic on the beltway -- comes not at the climax but shortly before the halfway point. This is a film that's so unrelentingly tense that Tell No One feels as if it's just a fraction of its two hour runtime, and although it never takes the path most expected, it never feels as if the movie is veering away purely to disrupt the audience's footing either.

Tell No One benefits immeasurably from the strengths of Harlan Coben's original novel as well as the skill and confidence of screenwriter/director Guillaume Canet. The film's other greatest asset is its cast. Canet shares Hitchcock's adeptness at casting someone deceptively ordinary in the role of the man wrongly accused. François Berléand is another standout as a police captain doggedly pursuing Alex. Genre conventions demand that he either be saddled with a double-digit IQ or serve as the lone voice of sanity in the police force, but Tell No One prevents him from settling comfortably into either cliché; the captain is perhaps the single brightest character in the movie, and his determination and tenacity are bested only by Alex. Highlighting some of the other exceptional performances would only serve to deflate some of the surprises in a movie that's wholly earned them. That the climax crackles with this much intensity without being anchored around quite the sort of confrontation one would traditionally expect is a testament to the power of its writing, direction, and acting, though. Taut, unrelentingly engaging, and exceptionally well-crafted in every possibly respect, Tell No One is an extraordinary thriller that demands to be discovered on Blu-ray. Highly Recommended.


Video
Tell No One looks terrific in high definition, particularly the eye-catching level of clarity and detail showcased throughout this 1080p presentation. The César-nominated cinematography by Christophe Offenstein features some striking interplay between light and shadow, and as Tell No One takes at least some of its cues from film noir, it follows that black levels remain deep and robust. Its stylized palette also excels on Blu-ray, from flashbacks frequently cast in a golden, sunbaked nostalgic glow to the more natural but still remarkably bold hues in the here and now. Flaws are sparse. I couldn't spot any missteps throughout this high bitrate VC-1 encode, the very light distortion in a handful of such patterns as car grills is easily shrugged off, and although the scope video does boast an unfamiliar texture, there isn't any processing that'd negatively impact the clarity or fine detail on display here. This is a strong effort from MPI and Music Box Films.


Audio
Tell No One features two soundtracks in its original French, although it comes as somewhat of a disappointment that there isn't a lossless multichannel mix. The French 5.1 track is in lossy Dolby Digital (640Kbps) only, and although uncompressed PCM audio has been offered, it's limited to stereo. Tell No One's English dub is in Dolby Digital stereo, although I'd imagine anyone seeking out a French thriller in high definition is sufficiently film-savvy to opt for its original language.

The dialogue and character-oriented approach Tell No One takes doesn't lend itself to a particularly aggressive sound design, although there's a strong sense of directionality and an effective use of split surrounds that are remarkably immersive. The rear channels are reserved primarily for light atmospheric color, but a few scattered effects do stand out, such as the lapping flames of a crematorium and the frenzied chase on the beltway. Bass response is robust when called for, especially the low-frequency thud punctuating Tell No One's gunshots. The French dialogue is balanced nicely in the mix and is rendered without any concerns. Tell No One's 5.1 audio sounds quite nice on Blu-ray, although I do wish that MPI could've found some way to offer this six-channel version in a lossless or uncompressed form.

Optional English subtitles have been provided to accommodate those of us who'd prefer to experience Tell No One in its original French. Owners of constant image height projection rigs should note that the subtitles do spill over into the letterboxing bars.

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Extras
  • Tell No One: The B-Side (56 min.): Exclusive to this Blu-ray release is a nearly hour long making-of documentary. "The B-Side" leans away from the overly promotional, talking heads bent of most behind the scenes featurettes, instead consisting of nothing but exceptionally well-edited candid footage from Tell No One's shoot. Its emphasis is most squarely placed on Guillaume Canet as he directs his cast and oversees a sprawling crew. This documentary casts a remarkably wide net, covering everything from recording the ringing guitar in the score to bruised-and-battered makeup effects to guiding along a buck for one iconic shot. Virtually every key sequence is explored to some extent, including Canet and his crew struggling against weather, indecisive bureaucrats, and an actor's broken shoulder. Insightful, comprehensive, and enormously entertaining, "The B-Side" is essential viewing for anyone buying or renting this Blu-ray disc.

  • Deleted Scenes (34 min.): This half-hour reel includes looks at marginally different versions of several key sequences, along with a number of minor extensions, a few scattered seconds of footage to help bridge certain moments, and several deleted scenes. Tell No One is such a tightly plotted movie that there wouldn't be room for anything extraneous, so it follows that there's nothing particularly revelatory in its deleted, extended, and alternate scenes. Among the handful of deleted scenes in the traditional sense are another sequence with the detectives at the airport and a chat with a coroner that introduces more of a sense of humor. Other highlights include a longer and more brutal ridealong with Bruno and some gunplay after Alex dives into a dumpster. Like all of the extras on Tell No One, this footage is in standard definition only. Timecodes are displayed in the letterboxing bars of this non-anamorphic widescreen image.

  • Outtakes (6 min.): Alongside the expected flubbed lines, barely restrained smirks, and uncontrollable bursts of laughter are take after take of François Cluzet plummeting into the lake along with a tracking shot that ends with a couple of crewmembers caught in the frame.

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The Final Word
Tell No One is an astonishingly well-crafted thriller, and it's the sort of film I'd like to think Hitchcock would be making today were he still alive: visually sumptuous without ever leaning on its style as a crutch, unrelentingly tense while veering away from the usual cat-and-mouse theatrics, and striking the perfect balance between dense plotting and strong characterization. It's disappointing to think that Tell No One is likely to be overlooked solely because this is a subtitled foreign film, but for those adventurous enough to seek it out, this exceptional French thriller is a rewarding discovery on Blu-ray. Highly Recommended.
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