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Tell Tale

3.3 out of 5 stars 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

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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: #157,330 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Tell Tale" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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I am prejudiced about this movie because I am a big fan of Josh Lucas. Lucas plays a great father (loving, attentive) even though at least once he neglects his daughter while he is obsessed with finding the killers of the man whose heart he gets as a transplant.
As usual Brian Cox gives a solid performance.
It has been too many years since I read Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart so I am not qualified to compare that story with this movie.
Regardless, this movie stands on its own.
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Format: DVD
There was something satisfying about the way the main character kept offing those who had killed his heart donor. But most of the time it was difficult to figure the story, and we were painfully aware that all the actors (but most particularly the female doctor who was the love interest), kept swallowing their words so that none of us could hear what was said. Regarding the confusing plot, one of the people with whom I was watching is a cardiologist - well, all of us are certified to be quite intelligent and experienced watchers of art flicks.... I think by the end we understood where the story was headed but were definitely underwhelmed.

BTW, this Blu-ray DVD apparently lacks subtitles. We looked for those, as they might have helped us understand the mumbled lines.
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