The Tall Man (Pascal Laugier, 2012): France

Reviewed by Lauren Jackson. Reviewed on Netflix.

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Most would have certainly thought that was not going to be a very good film, but I have to admit, there is a really big twist in the middle. One that leads you to furrowing your brows and bothering to wait for some understanding between actors and actions to occur.

A small mining town of Cold Rock was normal, until everyone’s kids started to go missing. The main actress, Jessica Biel, is an angel faced girl, a child deliverer who loves kids, and befriends everyone in town. What we dont know, is who is the one behind all of the kidnapping.

We are of course hinted when we see that Julia (Jessica) is the only “mother’ with a child named David. Everyone in town thinks the kidnapper is a man, known as the Tall Man. He wears a black cloak that covers everything from head to toe, and runs too quick for the eyes to follow.

Later in the film, David is taken, Julia runs after him/her to try and “rescue” David. We are brought to a downgraded ugly building and then brought to the news that Julia is the kidnapper. But then we are brought to the tiny little hub where all the town folks hang out. Julia is beaten up, and taken to the pub. While in the back room, she sees a little cross decor with photos of some of the missing children, including Davids which seems to stand out in a picture frame. Then we all think that the town people are behind the kidnapping..so again, confusion is brought back. Julia ends up escaping, finds David, takes him back to her house, she takes him into this back room of hers which is not shown to us until the police and detectives themselves are walking through it trying to make sense of it all. Julia is arrested, taken into questioning. She cries a lot in this film. The mother of the last victim, David, tries to get some answers, Julia tells her that he and the others are dead, that she was trying to do good for them, offer them a better home filled with books, music and toys, but she could not take care of all of them. So we all now see her as a kind of insane women. Though it is sad when we are taught that she might do all of this because of her inability to bear children.

All the while we think she is telling the truth, truth is, the kids are not dead. The tall man, happens to be Julia’s husband. He kidnaps them, takes them to Julia for some time, brainwashes them, then when time is right, the tall man takes them on a long drive to what looks to us like New York City where other parents are waiting to adopt the kids and give them a better home where they can go to school, learn and have things like books, music, toys and a “better” mother.  In Julia’s words, each and every child was like one of her own, yet she kept them from their real parents, then handed them off to a family in a high end city.

It is an interesting twist. While we see what really happens to the kids, we watch as Julia goes through with questioning, then into Jail..we are left with few last thoughts of hers, that someone has to stay behind to keep the secret. And for the mute girl whom I apologize for never really introducing, her last thoughts are, I loved my first mother, I loved my second mother, and I love my 3rd mother. She by the way, helped Julia in taking David, she kind of follows Julia around on her bicycle, but doesnt speak, only writes notes, and she asked Julia to see the man. Later, her mother and father get into some abusive fight, she runs off, gets taken by the tall man. According to us and to them, she wanted to be taken, wanted a new life, a better one. All of the kids have different passports, and different names, who they once were, are now declared dead.

So, it is a good film, a very good twist. If my writing seems confusing well, the movie was confusing. You understand, then you dont, then you do. It is up to you if you want to decide that Julia is good or bad. Of course, no one should be kidnapping your child, whether they live in a dump or not. As long as they are cared for, loved, treated well, and I being taught.

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