You’ll always have Paris? Fuhgeddaboutit. In Tell No One, the French-language version of the novel by American Harlan Coben, there’s nary a shot of the Eiffel Tower or any of the other Parisian sights that loom in the romantic imagination. Instead of being the kind of character-driven film at which the French excel, Tell No One offers the viewer a breathless pace, innumerable plot twists, a dismaying body count-and an ending that veers into saccharine sentimentality.
Pediatrician Alex Beck (Fran§ois Cluzet) is preparing to observe the eighth anniversary of the brutal murder of his wife, Margot (Marie-Josee Croze), by a serial killer when he receives an email containing a recent video clip of a woman who appears to be his wife. He arranges a rendezvous, but in the meantime, he starts asking questions that make people like his father-in-law, Jacques (Andre Dussollier), uneasy. A new development in the case also has the police once again scrutinizing Alex, whom they had initially suspected of Margot’s murder. For reasons that don’t quickly become apparent, Alex’s reputation, freedom, and life are suddenly at stake as he is pursued by the authorities and some vicious thugs.
The film is engrossing, but viewers may be confused by the careening narrative and the epic cast of characters. Canet is effective at presenting huge amounts of information without interrupting the action, but because the plot is so convoluted, the importance of certain details-like the fact that Alex’s sister Anne is a champion equestrian for Neuville stables-is not immediately obvious. Cluzet is appealing as the haunted and surprisingly resourceful Alex, and British-born Kristin Scott Thomas (who plays Anne’s lover) shows off her fluent French to good effect.
Ultimately, though, the film struggles under the weight of its labyrinthine plot and must rely-Psycho-style-on a long expository scene to untangle what happened to Margot-while throwing in a few other revelations about corruption and murders disguised as accidents. All the ugliness ends in a cloyingly sweet finale that comes across as a less-than-credible attempt at a clean finish.