Margot and Alex are childhood sweethearts (ignore that there’s 15 years age difference between them) who grow up to be a happily married couple, until Margo ends up dead and Alex ends up in a coma for three days, with no explanation for what happens.
The official story is that Margot was killed by a serial killer, though the police suspected Alex.
Flash-forward eight years, as the still morose Alex, mourning his wife on the anniversary of her death, receives an e-mail linking him to a live security camera where a woman who looks a lot like his wife can be seen staring upward.
Meanwhile, two bodies have been found in the woods near where Margot and Alex were attacked, and evidence on these bodies raises questions about the official story. The police once again turn their attention to Alex.
Meanwhile, some mysterious thugs are going around killing people and Alex must consort with some unsavory characters while getting to the bottom of the mystery.
This is a heavily plotted film. There were a couple of moments where I went “Ohhhhh” as I had figured out what was going, only to find another layer of plot deeper. It’s not, however, too much plot gettin’ in the way of the story, as Joe Bob Briggs would say. It all works except, to a degree, the final, ultimate exposition.
Which isn’t to say that the final exposition is bad, since the character’s motives all work out. But the actions, as described, are fairly improbable.
The Boy had trouble following it. He got distracted by trying to read things that were in French. He liked it, but it wasn’t until the end that he figured out what was going on, and even then I had to fill in some blanks. There’s a bit of exposition at the end that I thought was overlong but that helped him catch up.
But it still works. It’s interesting, there’s some good action, and the actual motivations are pretty clear. Things not quite hanging together doesn’t kill a movie like the characters acting inappropriately. It’s good drama.
François Cluzet is the lead, turning in a tightly wound performance that reminded me of Dustin Hoffman. Marie-Josée Croze, as Margot, necessarily has a smaller role, being killed in the first scene, and thereon living in flashbacks. But there’s good chemistry there.
Kristin Scott-Thomas, last seen (by us) as the suspicious wife in The Valet plays the savvy lesbian lawyer, married to Marina Hands (from The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, which Croze was also in), who is…uh…Margot’s sister?
One thing that confused The Boy and also confused me was keeping everyone’s relationship straight and, in fact, keeping the characters straight. It might’ve been the subtitles, which occasionally were white-on-white (doesn’t someone check these things?) and so demanded attention at times long after the subtitles usually disappear. (If you watch movies with subtitles a lot, you often forget you’re reading them 10-15 minutes into the movie.)
Not a perfect film, perhaps, but quite enjoyable and with a nice emotional depth you don’t usually get from a summer thriller. Of course, this is a fall movie from 2006, but still. New direcctor Guillaume Canet–an actor from one of my favorite films of 2005, Joyeux Noël–does a commendable job with a difficult script.