The engaging semi- melodramatic film, “In Secret,” directed and written by: first time screenplay writer Charlie Stratton; was an empathetic thriller that seemed to captivate the audience’s attention from start to finish. ‘In Secret’ is one of many films that have been remade numerous times based on Emile Zola’s acclaimed novel, “Therese Raquin.”
Stratton’s remake stars two- time Oscar Award Winning Actress Jessica Lange, who plays the role as a controlling aunt (Aunt Madame Raquin) transformed into a dependent by the film’s climax. The movie’s premise is fortified around actress Elizabeth Olsen’s role, whom plays a sexually repressed and naive young woman named Therese. Therese is forced to wed her delicate and in poor health cousin Camille, played by Tom Felton.
The screenplay begins with the 2 as children, sharing the same bed under the strict direction of Aunt Madame Raquin who we quickly learn has financial motives of her own after Therese is left andabandoned by her father at Raquin’s doorsteps. The movie takes a drastic turn after the two cousins are married and the trio decides to relocate to a grimy area of Paris in the late 1860s where they open their own clothing atelier shop. Within weeks of the shop’s opening the trio is surprised by the presence of Camille’s childhood friend a handsome fellow: Laurent played by Oscar Isaac.
Therese initiates a haughty affair ‘In Secret’ with Laurent in hopes of one day escaping her solitude to live out her ambitious yet lustful dreams of creating a life with her husband’s childhood friend. Stratton creates an aura of distrust surrounding Laurent’s character throughout every scene the 2 are together, using elements of shadow and light thus creating great cinematography enhancing darkness as the film progresses. It’s only a matter of time before the 2 (Therese & Laurent) have exhausted the chemistry and both desire mutual togetherness at the sacrificial expense of Camille’s life. This sends the entire cast into a dismal and sullen state as Aunt Madame Raquin intuitively suspects foul play so much so that it literally almost kills her. With these elements the audience is able to feel empathetically towards her but we all know everyone must reap what they have sown, and surely karma knocks on each characters door by the movies end.
Overall, Stratton’s remake was compelling but somewhat subpar with a telling storyline that was almost predictable as the movie progressed. I enjoyed how Stratton created a sense of camaraderie with the audience and the supporting characters who were friends of the trio including Laurent; this sense of fellowship was further evident as the characters used a plethora of satirical, yet important one liner puns which offered a bit of comedic relief from the films guilt educing storyline. ‘In Secret,’ receives 2/4 stars as there was a clear indication of Stratton’s attention to detail; but the time, setting, and characters were a bit modern and not as in sync with the Parisian culture during that era. However, one cannot deny that this was a moralistic tale of: adultery, incest, murder, compassion, karma, guilt, and lust mistaken for love.
Written by: Leonard Fortner
Photo: Google Images