Friday, May 1, 2009

Tell No One

I watched Tell No One (Ne le dis a Personne) last night. The movie is based on the book by Harlan Coben and is full of enough twists and surprises to satisfy the most jaded viewer. Just when you think you know who did it, the author turns your expectations around and dumps you on your head. Good stuff. Something we writers aspire to.

One unexpected relationship in the movie has me thinking about readers' expectations and what happens when we go against type. The main character, Alex, has lost his wife and is as devastated as a man can be. His best friend is his sister's wife, played by Kristin Scott Thomas. She does a marvelous turn as Helene, the sexy foil to his sister's earthier nature.

He confides in Helene, tells her his deepest secrets and fears. She is the one he turns to first when he's in trouble. It felt like a wonderful, deep relationship. Honest and true, but it somehow rang false. I think it was because it was at the expense of his relationship with his sister. That was very underdeveloped. I can see why he'd been inclined to chose Helene over Anne. She's far more interesting and insightful.

Still, it felt weird. We don't expect someone to be closer to a sibling's spouse than the sibling.

I'm torn. I liked that it was different, yet it didn't feel right because it was different. So, what's a writer to do? Maybe the book did a better job expanding the relationships. There was a hint that Alex and Helene were both protective of Anne, who was a bit of a delicate flower, and kept her out of the loop on purpose.

What do you think an author can do to both meet our expectations and surpass them?


Feeding the Grey Cells said...

Sounds like a good one to watch for..thanks.

beckylevine said...

My gut is if the author (or screenwriter) had answered that question you had-given a REASON for the friendship choice--you'd have been happy and satisfied. I think it sounds like a missing layer, and I'd be curious to see if it WAS in the book. :)

Have a wonderful time this weekend!

Kathryn Lilley said...

Oh yikes--just watched this movie yesterday with my husband. We were sort of confused by the plot, and had trouble keeping track of who all the characters were in relationship to each other, including their motivations. I think it probably helped to have read the book in order to appreciate the film. I was constantly going, "Wait a minute...what? Oh come on!" When it ended I turned to husband and said, "Well, that sucked." But the clerk at Blockbuster raved about it, so there you go. Everybody's different. Or maybe I just wasn't focusing well enough!