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Dites à Tout le Monde

October 29, 2007

Clapperboard I know which films are any good because I listen to Mark Kermode’s reviews on Simon Mayo’s radio show (belatedly via podcast), but rarely get to watch any. The other night my wife came home with a rental DVD for the family to watch. Judging by some past choices this could be a reason to panic, but I was hugely relieved when it turned out she had rented Tell No One, one of those rare films the good doctor (Kermode) has seen fit to heap praise on.

Naomi (my wife) had just finished reading the book, which is by American thriller writer Harlan Coben, and had really enjoyed it. It’s next on my list when I finish The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers.

The family sat round the TV expectantly as the DVD player drawer closed. We had to endure what felt like 30 mins of unskippable trailers for films we had no intention of ever seeing. It was probably only 5 mins, or maybe less once we found that fast-forward still worked. I think only rental versions get these adverts; guaranteed to get everyone hacked off before the film even starts.

ne le dis a personne

When it did start it became rapidly apparent that it was a French film, with English subtitles, under the title Ne Le Dis À Personne. Had Kermode mentioned that? If so I hadn’t picked up on it. We pressed pause while Naomi fetched out her copy of Coben’s book, turned it over in all directions and gave it a good shake before proclaiming that it was solidly English (or at least American) through and through. No trace of anything Gallic about it.

Undeterred we pressed play and proceeded to watch the film. I don’t propose to go into an in-depth review here because the film has been out ages now and there are countless reviews on the Internet already. What I will say is that on this occasion at least Dr Kermode was spot on. The film was long but never quite got to the point where it dragged, we bought into the characters, enjoyed the action sequences and the suspense built up to the inevitable dénouement when the extraordinarily convoluted strands of the plot were all neatly resolved. I did come close to guessing one of the key plot points in advance and got a steely look from my wife for my trouble.

The cast were all French (or so I thought) but one of the actresses looked very familiar. It turned out to be Kristin Scott Thomas. But she was speaking French and very convincingly – to my ears at least. I was following the subtitles while listening along to the French as best I could. My eldest son who is in his final year studying French and German at Oxford was following the French dialogue and didn’t remark that one of the actresses sounded incongruously foreign. Well Kristin, I since discovered, lived in Paris for a long time and trained at the French equivalent of RADA so maybe it’s not so surprising she could carry off that role without difficulty.

I’m now looking forward to reading the novel (in English) just to be completely sure I did understand the plot in all its intricacies.

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