Guillaume Canet’s Tell No One begins with a certain nonchalance that one wouldn’t ordinarily expect from a suspense thriller, least of all one that adapts Harlan Coben’s multi-twist mystery plotting with the brio of a distinctly Bourne-again action film. In its first minutes, the film draws us into a group of French yuppies summering enviably in woody Rambouillet. Kristin Scott-Thomas rolls a joint, someone passes a baby around, and all seems serene enough for Dr. Alex Beck to take his wife Margot for a languorous, moonlit skinny-dip at a nearby lake where they used to swim as children. How cruel it seems of Canet to ruin this moment, allowing Dr. Beck to be beaten unconscious and left naked on the dock, while Margot falls prey to a knife-wielding, cat-murdering serial killer.
Thus what begins as (and, to some extent, remains) a florid, Gallic Big Chill, soon becomes knotty and perverse, dragging its mournful hero through the pain of loss and then inauspiciously yanking him back again, eight years later, with a series of emails that may or may not be from his dead wife. “Tell no one,” she emails him (from the distinctly spam-filterable address “email@example.com”), and with mounting hope and paranoia, he begins a quest for verite that goes from procedural to proactive very quickly.