Across the Universe

Starring Francois Cluzet, Marie-Jose Crozee, Nathalie Baye, Jean Rochefort and Kristin Scott Thomas. Directed by Guillaume Caunet
Running Time: 131 minutes
Rated: Rated MA 15+ (strong violence)

Tell No One is based on a best-seller by Harlan Coben. This reviewer confesses that Coben is one of his favourite authors. Not only does he construct intricate plots for his thrillers, he also writes tantalisingly enjoyable prose with a gift of the entertainingly incongruous metaphors, often from modern pop culture.

So, what is a writer whose stories generally take place in New Jersey doing with a French film. Guillaume Caunet is a popular young French and international actor (The Beach) who was fascinated with the novel and decided to adapt it with his writing partner, and set it in France. The adaptation works very well.

The film has received critical acclaim and has won four French Cesars (including best actor and direction) and has also proven popular.

When the wife of a doctor is murdered, the doctor is initially thought to be the killer. But he himself was attacked and has little memory of what happened. Eight years later, some bodies are discovered in the area and he comes under suspicion again. He then receives an email message and some streaming video which suggests that his wife is still alive.

The writers keep Coben's characters - quite a large cast - and the steps of his plot as more and more complexities are revealed. In fact, the cast is most impressive. Francois Cluzet is excellent as the harassed doctor, with Marie-Jose Crozee as his wife. Character actors include veterans Nathalie Baye as a lawyer, Jean Rochefort as a business tycoon, Kristin Scott Thomas as a friend. Caunet has cast himself as a very nasty type who is killed.

Just as American adaptations of French films (and there are many) Americanise them (and are harshly criticised for this), so the French have Frenchified (or Gallicised) the American story - and are being highly praised for it!

Interesting, entertaining and substantial.

Madman Out November 1

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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