Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ne le dis à personne

I watched the excellent French movie Tell No One on DVD this weekend. It's an outstanding film about which I will say nothing that will give away the mystery. But I have two quick points.

1. Actor François Cluzet is fully 15 years older than the actress that plays his wife. I'm curious about how often age differences of this magnitude occur in real-life relationships, but it's a fairly common in movieland, for obvious reasons. The problem is that the story asks us to believe that the couple fell in love as children. Indeed, the movie shows them as children at roughly age 12-13. (IMDB doesn't list the actors ages, but they are obviously children.) The fact that one of them aged 15 years faster than the other was pretty hard to miss. (Parenthetically, why did the director go out of the way to coach child actors in how to deliver adult-style kisses? I know, they're supposed to be in love, but they would still kiss like children.)

2. When the movie shows Dr. Alex Beck (Cluzet) helping an rough-hewn "Ali G"-style gangsta early in the film, the audience just knows that this will be the one who helps Alex out of a tight spot later in the film. This particular kind of relationship -- hero does a good deed for a lowlife, lowlife turns out to be useful later -- is almost a movie cliche'. But it occurred to me that French popular culture has glorified its criminal underclass in the same way that American popular culture has. Somehow I had thought that, what with the street violence in Paris becoming so bad a few years ago that it made American television, these kind of people had lost their romance. But the movie street gang, at great risk to themselves, hide Alex from the police and help him prove his innocence. Just what criminals always do, right?

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