Thursday, February 20, 2014

“In Secret” – Movie Review



This week in my movie class, we saw the crime drama, “In Secret”, starring Elizabeth Olsen, Oscar Isaac and Jessica Lange.


When a young woman is forced into a loveless marriage, she takes a lover – but once they plot to kill her husband, will they be caught or can their secret be kept indefinitely?


In 1860’s France, Thérèse Raquin’s mother has just died; unable to care for her himself, the child is deposited in a countryside house by her father, who returns to Africa to work and promises to regularly send money for his daughter’s welfare. Thérèse is then raised by Madame Raquin (Lange), her aunt and the house’s occupant; Madame Raquin is also caring for her own sickly son, Camille. Growing into a young adult, Thérèse (Olsen) now becomes acutely aware of her own sexual urges – but without any men around, she reaches frustration more easily than orgasm.  After her father dies, Thérèse learns that she must marry the still-sickly Camille (Tom Felton) and move with him and Madame Raquin to Paris, where he has an office job waiting.

Dolefully yet dutifully, Thérèse does as she is told until one day Camille introduces her to Laurent (Isaac), an old childhood friend of his who happens to be a co-worker in the same office. Thérèse and Laurent eventually develop an attraction to each other and wind up engaging in a torrid love affair unknown to either Camille or his mother. Expressing wishes to leave her husband, Laurent convinces Thérèse that they must do away with Camille, so they murder him while in a rowboat, but insist to everyone that Camille’s death came by way of an accidental drowning.

After some months, Laurent and Thérèse marry, but gradually, it seems that the fire in their romance is being extinguished as they are consumed with guilt over their deed. Eventually, Madame Raquin falls ill when she suffers a stroke that causes her to lose both the ability to speak and most of her ability to move. Things worsen between Laurent and Thérèse as they resent being required to care for her. When Madame Raquin overhears them talking, she realizes that both Laurent and Thérèse are equally responsible for her son’s death. Despite her infirmity, can Madame Raquin somehow inform the authorities about what she now knows or will Laurent and Thérèse literally get away with murder?


A case can certainly be made for “In Secret” being visually appealing; one class member commented on the costumes and someone else said the cinematographer’s lighting made certain shots appear as though they could have been a Rembrandt painting. Despite this, though, the movie doesn’t have very much going for it – including its title, which wasn’t terribly creative. The film is a bit corny and a few scenes evoked laughter from the audience, which was a bit uncomfortable since it wasn’t completely clear if they were in fact done with comic intent. Overall, I’d say you could probably either wait for this movie to appear on cable TV or even skip it altogether and instead read the Emile Zola novel on which it was based (“Thérèse Raquin”).

“In Secret” – in spite of whatever uncomfortably humorous moments, intended or not – takes a pretty dark turn the further into the story it progresses. Its primary problem is that it’s difficult to find a protagonist for whom to root in this story; at the outset, we feel compassion for Thérèse because of the unfortunate predicament – but because of her selfish nature, her character evolves into someone who is ultimately rather unsympathetic. Neither Madame Raquin nor Camille are sufficiently sympathetic either, although you could make an argument that you are rooting for Camille in absentia by virtue of the fact that the audience simply wants to see justice done.

Prior to the screening, our instructor interviewed former “Today” show co-host Jane Pauley, who was there to promote her new book, “Your Life Calling”. Pauley mentioned that even as a young woman, she was aware the fame she acquired from the “Today” show was not necessarily due to any particularly spectacular accomplishment or unusual talent; as she put it, she was a star who didn’t twinkle. Although people are often told, “follow your bliss” to make a career choice, Pauley felt she didn’t have any specific calling in her life until she realized late that she enjoyed telling other people’s stories. Since she came to this realization late in life, Pauley decided to assemble a book of stories about other Baby Boomers who substantially changed either their career or lifestyle after turning 50.

In Secret (2013) on IMDb 7.3/10215 votes

No comments:

Post a Comment

Speak Your Piece, Beeyotch!