Eight years after the murder of Doctor Alexandre Beck’s wife, new clues begin to surface, reopening the case. The police find strong evidence suggesting Beck might be responsible for the murder, so Beck must evade the police while he to tries to prove his innocence.
This is one of the better thrillers I’ve seen in quite some time. It’s fast paced, smartly written, beautifully shot, and though it has some farfetched moments, it stays grounded enough that it makes sense overall. What really impressed me the most about this film however wasn’t the fantastically choreographed chase scenes, the constant reveal after reveal of twists, or the snappy and realistic dialogue; it was how emotionally connected this movie really was. This is, after all, a story about a man searching for answers about his murdered wife- emotion should play into a story like this. But I’ve rarely seen a movie this intense, and also this emotionally charged.
“Memories hurt. The good ones most of all.”
I’m going to try to avoid any spoilers. I went into this movie blinder than Stevie Wonder, and I’m thrilled I did. This movie is riddled with twists and turns more shocking than “Gone Girl”. I’ll give you the set up, but know that the film starts throwing surprises at you within twenty minutes of the movie starting. While it starts as one movie, it turns into a different one rather quickly. The film starts with a lovely couple; Alex (Francois Cluzet, “The Intouchables”) and Margot Beck (Marie-Josee Coze, “Munich”). They take a trip to a lake where they skinny-dip and talk of things to come. Through their conversation, we come to know that though they’ve been together for a while and are very much in love, their marriage isn’t perfect. Soon after they finish swimming, Alex hears Margot being attacked, and shortly after that he’s clubbed and falls into the water. We flash forward eight years; Alex isn’t over the death of his wife, but he spends his days going about his daily routine as a pediatrician. We learn that eight years ago, Alex was suspected as his wife’s murderer, but due to lack of evidence, the police didn’t charge him. Margot’s father, Jaques Laurentin (Andre Dussollier, “Amelie”) was a great defender of Alex when the investigation was open, saying that there was no doubt in his mind that Alex did not kill Margot. When two bodies are dug up near the place where Margot was last seen, the eight-year-old case is reopened, and the police inform Alex that should evidence be found that connects him to the murder, they will do everything in their power to prosecute him this time.
So, first off, I really enjoyed the writing in this film. The dialogue, the character relationships, and the way the story progressed pulled me into this movie instantly and never really let me go. This movie is based on a novel by Harlan Coben. As with many literary adaptations, the characters feel bigger than their appearances on screen. What do I mean by that? Well, the relationships the characters have- the way they talk to one another, the way they act when something surprises them- it makes the characters feel like they have lives outside of this movie. While this movie takes its time to build character relationships, it never feels like it’s dumbing down the material to make it easier to understand the relationships or what’s going on. Going further with that; the dialogue feels incredibly natural, and it really moves the story along at a great pace. There is a decent amount of expositional dialogue in this film, but the way that Canet approaches it doesn’t make the dialogue feel like its overly expository.
Acting was another thing that really stood out here. Francois Cluzet specifically was absolutely incredible. If you thought Liam Neeson in Taken was intense, just wait until you get a load of Cluzet. The man plays his character with fantastic vigor- it’s impossible to really take your eyes off him. As I mentioned before, one thing that really stood out to me about this movie was how emotionally connected I felt to the characters, and 90% of that is because of the way Cluzet plays Alex Beck. He’s simultaneously frantic, angry, and cool. I had heard great things about Cluzet before, particularly for his performance in “The Intouchables” (2011)- but I’ve never really gone out of my way to see his stuff. Now, I have every intention to see ”Intouchables”.
There are lots of great cinematic moments in this movie as well, but the best moment is probably a chase scene that happens about half way through the film. The scene starts in a doctor's office and follows Alex on foot as he darts across a highway, through back alleys and into apartments buildings. The scene is intense and wonderfully shot- particularly when he’s crossing the highway (for me it felt very reminiscent of the scene in “Insomnia” (2002) when Robin Williams runs away from Al Pacino across a river filled with logs). There are lots of other moments with cool editing- weaving together a few different storylines into one intricate tapestry. If I were to put my finger on a flaw that sort of bugged me, it’s the fact that the climax of this film is essentially a conversation that explains what happened. As a whole, the scene works, because there are so many twists and turns. I do feel like the way they approached that scene sort of lessoned the impact of some of the revelations.
As a whole, this movie is one of the better thrillers I’ve seen in a while. It’s fast paced, full of twists and turns that are bound to keep you guessing, and it’s emotionally impactful. I really enjoyed this movie, and if you’re a fan of twisty thrillers in the same vein as “Gone Girl”, this will probably be right up your alley.
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