With inevitable predictability, most critics have called Tell No One, the French murder mystery-cum-neo-noir from Guillaume Canet, a thriller in the vein of Hitchcock himself. On the contrary though, with its whiffs of Chinatown, replete with incestuous overtones, twisted fates and sexually malevolent curiosities, Tell No One is much more Polanski than Hitchcock. Then again, if Hitchcock, who has always seemed somewhat restrained by the chastity belted pre-sexual revolution America that he was preening to, were making films today, I suppose they would look a lot like Tell No One. Of course we are talking mid-level Hitchcock at best here. Perhaps we should stick to the comparisons to Polanski instead. But again, just mid-level Polanski.
Fettered with enough infuriating plot twists and mood shifts to make even The Big Sleep blush in its late night black and white dreams, Tell No One is at times a rush of excitement resplendently displayed in the best yet sleaziest memories of the genre (Kiss Me Deadly, Pickup on South Street, the aforementioned Chinatown) and at others it is a near ridiculous array of stupidly obvious yet out of left field sudden right turns and Hitchcockian red herrings that end up going nowhere but a contrivial dead end. Then again, the genre itself relies on such stupidly obvious yet out of left field sudden right turns and Hitchcockian red herrings to make a living. Even if they don't always work here, so be it.
In the end though, what we get, the story of one man in over his head searching for his long dead wife who may be alive after all these years (Damn, that does sound like Hitchcock! Where does Kim Novak fit into all of this?) and all the tentacled hoopla that goes along with, is still a soundly - if not a bit tone-deaf at times - manufactured and well-oiled - if not a bit squeaky here and there - post millennial (okay, okay, I'll inevitably and predictably say it) Hitchcockian thriller. There! Are you happy now!? [09/08/08]