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Tell-Tale
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Reviews & Ratings for
Tell Tale More at IMDbPro »Tell-Tale (original title)

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26 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Better than you think!

7/10
Author: rossp23 from United States
28 January 2010

First off, this is not any kind of interpretation of Poe's story; Modern or otherwise. The only thing similar is that the main character can hear a heart beat, sometimes. Suspense is held throughout the movie! It held my full attention and I couldn't wait to see what happened next. That's all I will say about the actual plot to not spoil anything. There is graphic violence, and overall the film has a depressing mood to it. Why then did I give a 7? The acting by everyone is great..except for the English doctor's! it was horrendous! Her lines sucked and she made me feel awkward. So bad that it takes away from the rest of the movie. Overall, a good flick to check out.

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33 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

Great modern interpretation

8/10
Author: Kellie Stewart from United States
11 January 2010

While this is not the story Poe wrote, it is a great modernized remake of it. In Poe's story, the man has committed a murder and the beating of a heart drives him insane. In this movie, the lead man has received a heart transplant and it has the mind of it's donor. It leads the recipient to specific people which helps him learn more about where his heart came from, the people that made it possible and the means by which it was obtained. Some actual recipients have been known to take on some of the characteristics of their donors and this is where this movie takes us. When a heart transplant occurs, do we question who it came from or just be happy to have it. In receiving this heart, the recipient is able to right some wrongs for the donor. I was pleased with this movie and thought it was well conceived.

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17 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

I'd watch it again!

9/10
Author: beverlyhellbillys from United States
1 February 2010

I picked this up at Blockbuster over the weekend (because I think the lead man, Josh Lucas, is heart-stopping handsome--no pun intended!), and I was quite pleasantly surprised.

The Rhode Island setting is beautiful, the plot is definitely intriguing and the characters are dear. I really felt for this single father whose life has been turned upside-down and his morality compromised by the supernatural powers his angry heart holds.

It's true that this Edgar Allan Poe adaptation is VERY loose; it's more "inspired by" Poe's short story than anything else, but hey, the tale inspired a great film!

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Don't compare this TV writer's screenplay to Poe.

7/10
Author: Newt Rox from United States
8 February 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

******* DEFINITE MAJOR SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW ******

Single dad Terry (Josh Lucas) lives with his young daughter Angela (Beatrice Miller) who has a rare terminal disease. Terry has had a recent heart transplant, to which he seems to have adapted healthily, but he slowly becomes consumed by the tortured persona of the heart's donor through the extraordinary heart that follows no law of nature, science or physics.

The donor was a terminally ill man who'd put his name on an organ donor list and was then prematurely murdered by organ harvesters. He died watching them murder his wife too, which gives the film its impetus.

Terry trudges through the film, coping with his psychoses, blackouts, and flashbacks of the donor's murder scene. He finds out the identities of his donor and those involved in the transplant. Discovering in a news article that the donor was murdered, he then seeks the bad guys.

The film has its "Death Wish" moments as Terry is quietly egged on to avenge the still-unsolved murder by the annoying detective (Brian Cox) assigned to the original homicide. As the bad guys start to die, the detective has enough evidence to bring Terry in, but actually aids Terry because he has his own reason for seeing vengeance meted out. The film tends to the morose, as Terry inexplicably morphs into a schizoid, psychological mess, struggling through his new quest. Yet there are uplifting scenes of the star's relationships with his daughter and girlfriend.

The dialog tends to drag. The plot and characters can become fairly unbelievable. Despite decent action several times I viewed the actors as if I were on a distant treetop, wondering at the lack of a sense of thrill or horror, and at how remarkably unscary and un-engrossing this film got.

Terry carries the burden of the driven, tormented heart recipient -- barely -- yet his character's dialog is handled in a heavy-handed, insensitive manner. The acting of Lena Headey as his girlfriend Elizabeth, a caring, no-nonsense physician and lover, is enjoyable. But when Headey is forced to watch horrific surgical procedures performed on her beloved Terry she is dead-pan. She may have picked up this stoic behavior from repeatedly watching Summer Glau get blown to bits in last TV season's "Terminator - Sarah Connors Chronicles," canceled after one season. The attractive Headey started acting as an adult 20 years ago, has worked mostly in television, and as far as I can tell has had a less-than-earth-shattering career, despite the proclivity of directors to cast her in tight jeans.

For the vengeance to have been more credible and make more sense there should have been a stronger, more interesting, contemporaneous tie-in to the harvester ringleaders, including the surgeon. Perhaps this part could have been turned out to be Terry's cold-blooded cardiologist. Or even Elizabeth.

Ironically in the end it's revealed that the heart was ordered up by Elizabeth, who was treating Terry's daughter and became attached to her -- Elizabeth didn't want Terry to exit this planet quite so soon. She'd asked dodgy co-workers at the hospital to get her a heart, "no-questions-asked," which Terry is not too happy to hear.

This ending and the final surgery was a stretch but I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the film's rudimentary ethics question of whether murder can be condoned if it benefits the perpetuity of family. Terry seems by then to have completely adopted the victim's loss and sense of right and wrong, and it trumps his love for Elizabeth and his desire to have his daughter taken care of. Another view might be that his HEART was letting its love for its donor's wife trump everything.

The rental didn't have captioning, which made Headey hard to understand, since she spoke quickly and with an English accent. This is true of some of the other dialog.

Filmed in gorgeous Providence, Rhode Island.

I wouldn't compare this to Poe though I admit that -- for a sadistic heart thief -- death by defibrillator is a poetic one.

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17 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

a B category film

4/10
Author: Vlad Vlad from Romania
8 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well the movie is not great, but not the worst there is. Terry, is a single dad, taking care of his 10 year old daughter Angela who is suffering from a rare disease, Terry himself being recovering after a heart transplant. Step by step he notices changes in his behavior and actions, and his pulse starts to accelerate when he encounters some people at the clinic he had the transplant. He also has flashbacks and memories of the one who donated the heart. After making some research on his own, he finds that his donor was murderer during a possible robbery, but the suspects were never found. Putting things together, he realizes that 4 employees from the clinic were involved in murdering his donor and he starts to take revenge against them, being lead by his heart impulses. The action is quite thrilling, but the lines are dull, and some scenes maybe too gore. Well.. that's almost it, the end is quite surprising leaving the audience in doubt.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

I would rather this film had straight up sucked

4/10
Author: MBunge from Waterloo, Iowa
7 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There's something uniquely frustrating about this film. Bad movies are a certain kind of disappointment. Good movies that go bad are another. Tell Tale aims at and successfully achieves a complacent mediocrity and then just as it suggests it might become something better, it goes right in the toilet. Being lulled into a resigned acceptance, only to have your hopes raised and then instantly dashed is an aggravating emotional whiplash. I usually wish that movies had been better. I would have preferred this one to be worse, sparing me those few bitter moments of futile hope.

Based loosely, and I mean very loosely, on Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart", this motion picture is about Terry Bernard (Josh Lucas). He's a recent heart transplant recipient trying to get his life back in order. He's got a young daughter named Angela (Beatrice Miller) with a terminal genetic disorder and Angela has a beautiful doctor named Liz (Lena Headey) who's also pretty fond of Terry. I'd like to tell you more about these characters but they don't have any distinct personalities. If you smushed all their defining character traits together you still wouldn't have anything resembling a three dimensional human being.

Terry starts having these episodes where he hears his heart thundering in his ears and sees strange images of people milling about in a dark room. These episodes eventually lead to Terry killing people and with the help of a jaded detective (Brian Cox), he learns that his victims are the people who killed the person whose heart now beats in Terry's chest. And that demanding, magical organ isn't gong to let Terry stop killing.

Now, let me give you an example of what I mean by Tell Tale being mediocre. A pretty big deal is made of Angela's genetic disorder, to the point where there's an entire scene built around it. Terry having a sick daughter, though, let alone one with a very rare and heart-breaking condition, never goes anywhere or amounts to anything. It doesn't play any role in the plot. It's not connected to anything else in the story. Angela's disease doesn't mirror Terry's condition or link up with it thematically somehow. You could make Angela healthy and Liz her math tutor without changing anything significant in this film. And that's what I mean by mediocre. Tell Tale isn't bad, there's simply no depth or complexity or sophistication to any of it.

Which is okay. A mediocre movie is better than a bad one, but then this flick has to go and suddenly get smart. It begins to suggest that the heart isn't only using Terry for vengeance. The heart may be changing Terry into its original owner, setting up a second and more intriguing conflict. The heart isn't only taking revenge…it's also taking Terry's identity. But as that concept starts to emerge from the mire, the film abruptly turns stupid and falls into an overly melodramatic ending that only works because Tell Tale violates its central premise. All of the supernatural powers the heart has demonstrated throughout the story are pounded away by the Almighty Plot Hammer and Terry is left a helpless victim before his enemies because writer David Callaham apparently couldn't figure out a way to write a climax that didn't involve one cliché after another.

All of the actors here do good work, with Josh Lucas exceeding the barren script to create believable relationships for Terry with both Angela and Liz. Lena Headey admirably soldiers through a typically thankless girlfriend role and looks amazing. Brian Cox is possibly the best thing in the production as a cynical, defeated cop given new hope by the unbelievable until he's betrayed by a crushingly trite motivation. And director Michael Cuesta does a perfectly acceptable job.

It's dispiriting turn at the end leaves Tell Tale a sub-mediocre 90 minute movie that could have been a worthwhile 2 hour flick if it had followed through on its potential. It didn't, so it's not worth your while

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A Tad of Poe Goes a Long Way

7/10
Author: weronews from Austria
24 May 2010

After receiving a heart transplant, genuinely nice guy Lucas encounters both the very attractive female doctor who cares for his seriously ill daughter and visions of murder and mayhem he has to make sense of. Very loosely based on Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," which is at its core an inner monologue of a mad man that lasts only a few pages, scribe Dave Callaham expanded, embellished and embroidered the story for the modern age. In the gifted hands of helmer Michael Cuesta ("L.I.E.," "Twelve and Holding," TV's "Dexter") the so-so plot gets elevated to art-house standards with Lena Headley and Josh Lucas oozing believable chemistry, and the always exceptional Brian Cox making a lasting impression as a cop with an agenda of his own. Ends as abruptly as a punch in the guts, but it's definitely worth a glimpse

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11 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Unsatisfactory and tedious

5/10
Author: Argemaluco from Argentina
15 February 2011

Even though it pretends to be a free adaptation of the classic short story The Tell-Tale Heart, written by the great Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), the film Tell-Tale is in fact a rehash of the old sub-genus of "malignant part of the body", which includes horror movies such as The Hand, Body Parts and The Eye. Those films showed how an organ transplanted from one body to the other can produce unexpected effects, usually with tragic consequences to the patient (or victim) of the procedure. And even though Tell-Tale has a few positive elements, its tedious narrative and bland drama ended up producing a boring and unsatisfactory film experience.

There are two predictable twists in Tell-Tale: the first one is revealed pretty soon, and the other one, at the ending. And besides of that, this film is basically a collection of long and uninteresting scenes in which we see the main character afflicted by events he does not understand; the treatment for his daughter's illness; and the insipid romance he was with a doctor. And the worst thing of all is that none of those elements substantially contribute to the story, and they feel as simple fillers so that the time goes through while there are not murder scenes.

Tell-Tale includes elements from a medical drama, a thriller and a horror film which deals with supernatural subjects...however, there is not an adequate cohesion between them. On the positive side, Josh Lucas, Lena Headey, Brian Cox and Beatrice Miller bring solid performances despite having such poor material to work with. So, in conclusion, I cannot recommend Tell-Tale, because I found it to be a very boring movie which lacks of any emotion, impact or suspense.

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12 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Refreshing outlook on The Tell Tale Heart

9/10
Author: from United States
9 February 2010

Tell Tale is a modern adaptation of Poe's The Tell Tale Heart. This movie contains all aspects of an independent hit film. Characters undergo change, there is conflict and resolution, and a twist all the way through to keep you on the edge of your seats til the end. I enjoyed watching Terry slowly put together the pieces of his mystery heart as he also tries to maintain his sanity and take care of his daughter. This movie takes on more of the thriller aspect than a horror as Poe intended but I feel writing it as a thriller did Poe justice. Since it was an adaptation I feel the direction the film went was justified. I would definitely recommend this movie to all and would watch it again.

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23 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

There were many Tell Tale signs that this was a turkey

2/10
Author: bigdarvick from United States
29 January 2010

It wasn't awful in the Ed Wood sense of the word awful. It just draaaagged-- as if the actors had taken some very strong downers. The dialog was unintentionally funny, because it was so predictable and not too well written--plus, the lead actor who played the single dad named Terry, had this "I'm scared" look on his face throughout at least 75% of this film. For the remaining 25% of the movie, he looked like as though he was always about to burst into tears.

Loosley (an understatement) based story on Poe's The Tell Tale Heart. This is a prime example of ruining a literary masterpiece of horror. Poe,(if alive)would've driven a stake through the screenwriter's heart, then buried him under the floor boards. The flick portrayed the story as kind of a horror, suspense, action mish mosh. Unfortunately, there was little of any horror, suspense or action. It had the overall feel of some "made for TV" mega flop. In the film, there was a surprise here and there, but no big deal. We've seen 'em before in other movies. Nothing seemed to gel here, it was like eating runny jello in it's early cooling stages before it firms up. It's all sloppy and difficult to get on a spoon to eat. Too frustrating and not worth the effort. Watch this movie only if you are on Quaaludes.

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