In SecretWednesday 14 May 2014
In Secret, an adaptation of the novel Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola which was first published in 1867, tells a tale of unbridled passion, deceit, desperation and madness.
When Thérèse (Elizabeth Olsen) is a young girl she is brought by her father to live with his sister, Madame Raquin (Jessica Lange), and her sickly son, Camille (Tom Felton). She grows up sharing a bed with her coughing cousin - Thérèse's domineering aunt forcing her to marry him when she turns 21. The trio soon move to Paris so that Camille can pursue a job in an office. Madame Raquin opens a sewing shop in a dark back alley which Thérèse works in during the day and then, in the evening, she watches her husband and mother-in-law play dominoes with a rather eccentric bunch of friends.
One fateful night Camille returns home from work with a colleague, Laurent (Oscar Isaac), in tow, and it's clear to see he sets off a spark inside the shy, submissive and clearly miserable Thérèse. It's not long before they are embroiled in an affair, sneaking moments together whenever they can. Such is their passion for each other, Thérèse and Laurent soon declare they can no longer live apart. Problem is, neither has any money to run away with or get a divorce.
In Secret introduces you to the characters slowly, allowing time to see the dynamics of their relationships develop. When Laurent arrives on the scene, the chemistry between him and Thérèse practically jumps off the screen, and you can understand why she chose to engage in an affair.
Madame Raquin might easily be perceived as the villain in the first half of the movie, but because of the way writer/director Charlie Stratton lays out the characters, by the second half you can see that each person in this story could easily assume that role. The finger of blame is not clearly pointed in one direction; instead you are left to make up your mind, based on your own morals and judgements. Once your own conscience kicks in, In Secret becomes increasingly riveting.
On the downside, we are rushed through the second half of the movie as time whirls by at a rapid pace. We are never given any insight as to when Laurent and Thérèse's relationship started to fall apart - suddenly it is eight months later and things are not going quite according to plan. When did their conscience and morals come into play?
Elizabeth Olsen is superb as Thérèse - her eyes alone could tell the whole story - while Jessica Lange delivers a rather mesmerising performance. The actresses' later scenes together won't be easily forgotten.