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Film: Don't Say A Word

"I'll never tell."

Don't Say A Word is a psychological thriller, based on a novel by Andrew Klavan and starring Michael Douglas, Sean Bean, Brittany Murphy, Famke Janssen, Jennifer Esposito and Oliver Platt.

Dr. Nathan Conrad (Douglas), a respected child psychiatrist, is called on by his colleague, Dr. Louis Sachs (Platt), to take on as a patient Elisabeth Burrows (Murphy), a deeply disturbed young woman who stabbed someone unprovoked. Elisabeth doesn't say much except to guess that Dr. Conrad wants "what they want". On Thanksgiving morning, the morning after he sees Elisabeth for the first time, Dr. Conrad's daughter Jessie is kidnapped. Patrick (Bean), the leader of the kidnappers, calls Dr. Conrad and tells him Jessie will die unless he gets Elisabeth to give him a six-digit number that will lead to a stolen diamond.

This movie provides examples of:

  • Big Applesauce: Set in New York City, the Bronx and Brooklyn (though some of it was shot in Ontario).
  • Black Dude Dies First: Played with; Dolen isn't the first one we see die in the movie, but of Patrick's gang who are just out of jail, he's the first to die.
  • Flashback Echo: As Dr. Conrad takes Elisabeth down the stairs of the subway station, she relives, and we see, the day her father was killed by Patrick.
  • Freudian Excuse: Elisabeth is basically suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after seeing her father murdered right before her eyes when she was younger.
  • Get Out: Elisabeth basically says this the first time Dr. Conrad interviews her.
  • Handicapped Badass: Aggie; even though she's crippled thanks to breaking her leg while skiing, still is able to fight off Dolen and then kill him.
  • Hollywood Psych: Subverted: Elisabeth basically pretends to be anything that will keep her in a psychiatric hospital, because she's afraid the people who killed her father will come after her too.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: An unusual version of this trope in that its the B plot that's the minor crime.
  • Oh Crap: Nathan when he sees the broken lock on his front door and realizes someone took Jessie.
  • Rule of Three: Patrick gives three rules to Dr. Conrad; follow instructions, don't contact the police, and find out the number Elisabeth knows before 5 pm that night. Later, in an Ironic Echo, Dr. Conrad delivers his own rules; no clock, he wants to speak to Jessie ASAP, and no more phone.
  • Time for Plan B
  • Title Drop: "If you want your daughter returned to you, don't say a word."
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Along with Dr. Conrad trying to find out what Elisabeth knows, there's also the plot of Detective Cassidy trying to solve a murder that seems to be unrelated but isn't.
  • Waif Prophet: Elisabeth gives strong vibes of the trope.

Devil's PreyFilms of 2000 - 2004 Driven

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