What follows is bad, brutal. And then: "Eight years later . . .," it says on the screen. Alexandre is a pediatrician, living alone. He has his sister (Marina Hands) and a good friend (Kristin Scott-Thomas) for company - and grief still welled up within. Margot was the apparent victim of a serial killer. But apparent is the key word: After all this time, Alexandre receives an e-mail suggesting that his wife, in fact, is alive.
And when two bodies turn up, long buried in the woods near the lake, the police - who never believed Alexandre to begin with - are back on the case. What follows is tricky (and may not stand up to careful scrutiny) but in classic Hitchcock style, Alexandre becomes a man on the run, trying to prove his innocence, unearth the truth, and find Margot - if she lives - with cops and a gang of thugs hot on his trail.
Cluzet, remindful of a younger, more agile Dustin Hoffman, is keen-eyed and intense in the lead. There's a Bourne-like chase sequence through the streets of Paris - winding up on a buzzing beltway - that's riveting stuff, and a scene in a suburban housing project where the police are anything but welcome, and where Alexandre goes looking for clues. Two actresses - Croze and Hands - will be familiar to viewers of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, while the patrician Jean Rochefort has a small, pivotal role, and Gilles Lellouche is brilliant as Bruno, a gangster who owes his child's life to Alexandre, and who repays the debt in the nick of time.
Tell No One ***1/2 (out of four stars)
Directed by Guillaume Canet. With Francois Cluzet, Marie-Josee Croze, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Marina Hands and Gilles Lellouche. Distributed by Music Box Films. In French with subtitles.
Running time: 2 hours, 5 mins.
Parent's guide: No MPAA rating (violence, profanity, nudity, adult themes)
Playing at: Ritz Five
Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or email@example.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://go.philly.com/onmovies.