Director and screenwriter Guillaume Canet adapts this Harlan Coben novel brilliantly to the screen. With some of the most interesting of scene changes and uses of flashbacks incorporated its complex storytelling remains coherent and understandable, even with subtitles. Quite an achievement for any plot nearly as involved, with the intrigue and twists taken.
The French movie makers have a way of reaching into the highest pinnacle of social and government scandal; as do their actual criminal investigations. Perhaps a leftover of having had a real revolution under their belts and not just what one calls, with that term, a former colony freeing itself from its mother country’s yoke. Regardless, Frenchmen and Frenchwomen, are open to revelations of corruption at the very top of their government. This “phenomenon” lends more credence to the film and provides better understanding for its success in France. Conversely, it might help explain its lack of any such accompanying success elsewhere.
A dead ringer for Dustin Hoffman, Francois Cluzet, gives an elegant performance as Alexandre Beck, devoted husband who loses his wife under dubious and suspicious circumstances that, after eight long years of virtual mourning, are fatefully brought back into fresh focus by the discovery of new bodies at the same scene of the tragedy, and of the same vintage. The detail that this occasions on the sad eighth anniversary of a mourning joined by him and his wife’s parents, and deepened by emails he receives presumably from his long deceased loved one, begins an adventure fraught with chase, suspense, murder, and intrigue seemingly convoluted in its complexity. However, the film’s ending brilliantly resolves all loose strings and achieves the success of a thriller on level with Hitchcock.
The lovely Marie-Josee Croze is Margot, Beck’s wife. Although her appearance in the film is relatively cursory, she provides an excellent vision of loss and betryal. The striking Marina Hands plays Beck’s sister, Anne, while the accomplished and beautiful Kristin Scott Thomas plays Helene Perkins, Anne’s lover and Alexandre’s closest friend and confidant. Ms. Thomas’s performance is superb and integral to the movie’s outcome.
Supporting cast is another keen success for this film. From the chief investigator, to a befriended underworld tough, to a lady henchman villain with subtle torture techniques; all are interesting and colorful. Plenty for the viewer’s plate. A movie of some truly great scenes, made so by camera work, scene outlay and inspired directing.
Occasional nudity, graphic detail, but all with more than prurient purpose. Your kids will see worse on a far more culturally menacing daily television schedule. Highly, highly recommended.