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Tell Tale

14 customer reviews

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(May 25, 2010)
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Editorial Reviews

A chilling re-imagining of Edgar Allen Poe s timeless story The Tell Tale Heart. Hardworking single dad Terry (Josh Lucas) has a new lease on life, he has recovered from a recent heart transplant and met a beautiful woman. But things go awry as he becomes haunted by his own heartbeat and realizes that he must delve into the shocking death of the donor who saved his life.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Josh Lucas, Lena Headey, Brian Cox
  • Directors: Michael Cuesta
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Vivendi Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 25, 2010
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00368PSLY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,219 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Tell Tale" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Compay on February 13, 2010
Format: DVD
Let me first make something clear: "Tell Tale" actually has nothing to do with "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe. In Poe's short story, a murderer is haunted by the sounds of his victim's beating heart. In the film, the recipient of a heart transplant shares a supernatural connection with his deceased donor, and seeks to unravel the mystery of his murder. The film only emphasizes the heartbeat when single father Terry sees someone that the victim did.

The film is directed by Michael Cuesta, who previously directed episodes of Dexter and Six Feet Under. It's produced by Tony and Ridley Scott, and even though they aren't listed as directors, I found it interesting that the film borrows direction techniques from Man on Fire (A Tony Scott film).

I've enjoyed work by Josh Lucas in the past (Glory Road, Sweet Home Alabama), but he simply doesn't stand out in this role. On the other hand, Brian Cox (Bourne Identity, Braveheart) absolutely steals the show as Van Doren, the detective following every move Josh's character makes. Michael K. Williams (Omar Little from The Wire) seemed a promising inclusion in the film, but has virtually no screen time.

The downside to the film is that it's not incredibly original. Return to Me was a 2000 movie that deals with the bond between a heart transplant recipient, and the man who loved the deceased donor. 1995's Jeff Goldblum film Hideaway also explored supernatural connections between accident victims. Beyond the concept issues, the twist that occurs during the film serves only to point out a major plothole (the most I can say without spoiling it).

This movie is worth renting, though I wouldn't consider buying it until after you've watched it once. Light on originality, but with some solid acting by Brian Cox, this makes for a decent weekend rental.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 19, 2011
Format: DVD
Tell Tale (Michael Cuesta, 2009)

This is another of those pleasant-surprise films that simply disappeared into the ether. It showed at Tribeca, failed to find an American distributor, and went straight to DVD a year later. On the other hand, successful festival runs in other parts of the world led to theatrical releases in France, Singapore, Greece, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Australia... and the list goes on. Why is it that other countries are so able to recognize the worth of smaller American films, while those of us who like to see things on the big screen are so often spoon-fed the lowest common denominator? (I already think I know the answer to that question, but I'm hoping if I keep asking it, the studios who refuse to take chances on intelligent, low-budget movies like this will get the hint.)

This is, in fact, an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart", but it's not one you're likely to recognize. Scriptwriter Dave Callaham (The Expendables) turned the story on its head; in this case, we have a heart transplant patient who has also gained some of the memories of the donor, who was murdered. Terry (Poseidon's Josh Lucas), said patient, becomes obsessed with solving the donor's murder. Problem is, he's becoming somewhat divorced from his own reality, which places a strain on his relationship with Elizabeth (300's Lena Headey, currently filming the Game of Thrones adaptation for HBO), his daughter Angela (Toy Story 3's Beatrice Miller)'s doctor. It's not enough Terry's got a bad ticker, his kid has a nasty, and incredibly rare, genetic defect. Not a lucky family by any means, right? So maybe it's not all that bad a thing when Terry starts gaining not only the donor's memories, but also his personality.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Red Sapphire on November 25, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This film has some interesting twists to it, and Josh Lucas's character is both a hero and an anti-hero. I thought he did a good job with the role. I missed that emotional depth that he can portray so well, but this picture didn't call for that. Still, I saw a side of his acting range I hadn't seen before, and he did as well with the character as anyone else could have. I adored the little girl who played his daughter, and it was great to see a story featuring a relationship between the male and female lead that lasted longer than about two minutes of an entire movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas M. Sipos VINE VOICE on September 5, 2015
Format: DVD
A man receives a heart in a transplant, and the donor's heart possesses the man at certain moments, forcing him to track down and kill the donor's murderers. This is not an original idea. Donor organs possessing their recipients have been done before in horror (e.g., the "Spare Parts" episode of Ghost Story aka Circle of Fear). And the dark side of organ transplants have likewise been done in horror, the most famous example being Coma, though there are others.

We never find out how the heart donor is possessing the man. Is it the donor's ghost? Or is it cellular memory? (An as-yet-unproven paranormal theory that every cell in the human body retains memory, not just the brain.) The film doesn't even try to explore the cause, though it would have made for an interesting angle.

So the man goes about killing his heart donor's murderers. The murders are not too gory. They mostly occur unseen. A man is stabbed, we see him grimace, but don't actually see the knife penetrate. Another man is pushed ahead of an oncoming train. We don't actually see him torn and splattered. That might disappoint gorehounds, but I found the events interesting enough, the characters and their reactions fully-fleshed enough, not to be bothered by the lack of gore. (Well, there are scenes from the heart transplant surgery, which some might find pretty unsettling.)

An interesting subplot is this man's daughter, who has a rare genetic disorder. It causes the bones to fuse together. I found that more horrifying than the other events in this story.

Lena Headey plays the love interest.
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