Stars: *** 1/2
Rating: Not Rated but should be R for violence and adult situations
Run Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes. In French with English subtitles
I love a good French thriller and these days they’re few and far between. Guillaume Canet adapts Harlan Coben’s bestselling crime novel of the same name with whip-smart technique and a tetchy undercurrent of anxiety.
Pediatric surgeon Alex Beck (François Cluzet) is going through the motions since his wife Margot (Marie-Josee Croze) was savagely murdered at their lake home near Paris over eight years before.
Out of the blue Alex receives a cryptic e-mail with a provocative link – a grainy real-time video showing Margot’s face and a message telling him that she’s still alive. “Tell no one” it says.
Quick as a wink the police re-open the investigation – or is it Pandora’s Box? -- as Alex is fingered for the murder at the same time he’s trying to solve it. Think “The Fugitive” or Hitchcock’s “The Wrong Man”; a couple of bodies unearthed at the scene of the crime, photos of Margot covered in bruises hidden in a safety deposit box, a murder weapon in Alex’s apartment and the typically thrilling assortment of illicit affairs.
Young “It” director Canet knows his way around a camera, sneaking in immaculate chase scenes and a surfeit of flashbacks that perpetually beg the question “why?” Elaborate storyline keeps pace with reason while managing to twist and turn like a narrative slinky.
Best of show is Canet’s succulent character studies; the wealthy lover of Beck’s wary sister (Kristin Scott Thomas), Margot’s stoically grieving police lieutenant father (André Dussolier) and a grateful gangster (Gilles Lillouoche) whose hemophiliac son was saved by Beck’s gifted touch.
Canet utilizes a strong score to underwrite his themes; Jeff Buckley warbling “Lilac Wine” over a blistering wedding/funeral montage, the cerebral strains of Matthieu Chedid’s distorted guitar.
Thriller, love story, whodunit; an unwieldy trio made whole by an up-and-coming mastermind.