| (This Movie is Unrated)
There is nothing more pleasurable than sitting on a chaise lounge by a body of water and reading a mystery.
Director Guillaume Canet boldly attempts to bottle that experience in his condensed feature film adaptation of Harlan Coben’s best-selling novel of the same title.
The teaser opening of a couple skinny-dipping in a remote lake is just the tip of the iceberg for a convoluted and confusing narrative.
The central story involves pediatrician Alex Beck (Francois Cluzet who looks like a young Dustin Hoffman from “Marathon Man”), still mourning the abduction and murder of his childhood sweetheart wife, Margot (Marie-Josée Croze from “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”), which took place eight years ago.
His memory of the events are sketchy because he was knocked unconscious and in a coma for three days. He was a prime suspect until the crime was pinned on a serial killer who mutilated seven other women.
When the bodies of two men are found near where his wife’s corpse was dumped, the police reopen the investigation and Alex becomes their main target again.
The mystery and suspense are turned up another notch when Alex receives a series of e-mails from an anonymous source with a link to a live streaming video that indicates Margot is alive and well.
The message also bears the words of the title and cautions Alex to be careful because they are watching every move. Alex is like a pawn on a chess board.
In the middle of the movie, there is an exciting chase on foot between Alex and the police that leads to a multiple car crash and huge pile-up on the beltway.
An essential subplot involves a powerful politician (Jean Rochefort) and his equestrian son (Canet) with deviant pedophilia urges. There are a multitude of characters popping in and out with scant explanations of who they are.
The movie keeps you clueless and guessing with red herrings, twists and turns. A second viewing is necessary to get everything straight. The subtitles containing the juicy detailed explanations of police corruption and cover-ups get lengthier as the movie progresses.
The most familiar actress in the cast is Kristin Scott Thomas (“The English Patient”) who plays the lesbian partner of Alex’s sister.
The movie will remind you of Alfred Hitchcock thrillers, “The Fugitive” and “Memento.” The ear-pleasing soundtrack of jazz tunes with English lyrics maintains the mood. The dialogue is entirely in French with English subtitles.
The movie won four César Awards (French equivalent of the Oscar) for best director (Canet), best actor (Cluzet), best editing and best musical score. This movie should whet your appetite to read the book to further savor the intricate story. It will also stimulate a lively post-viewing discussion sorting out the wheat from the chaff.
Opening this weekend exclusively at the Glenwood Arts and Tivoli.
Keith Cohen, "The Movie Guy"