"It's always the ones in the corner you have too worry about."
Kind of like in the same way that the main character, Therese, is trapped in a loveless marriage in this period drama directed by Charlie Stratton, I felt trapped in this dull and lifeless film. To be honest, I checked this film out because of the cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Oscar Isaac, Tom Felton, and Jessica Lange are all superb actors, but their characters never had much depth. There were major problems with the adaptation of the screenplay from Émile Zola's 19th century novel, "Therese Racquin," while the pacing was an issue for me as well. The production design transported me to 19th Century Paris very well, but the English language used never felt like it was from that period. In Secret does begin with some promise and I actually was drawn to the characters, but after 20 or so minutes it began to lose its appeal as it became hard to sympathize with any of the characters. We've seen this sort of Shakespearean tragedy played out many times and much better than it is done here. Jessica Lange is the only one who actually raises above from the rest of the cast and tries to salvage the movie, but it is expected considering her character had to undergo the most emotional ranges. Her character is the strongest thing about In Secret where she slowly transforms from an unsympathetic character to a sympathetic one.
The story is set during the 1860's in Paris as we are introduced to a forced marriage between Thérèse Raquin (Elizabeth Olsen) and her cousin Camille (Tom Felton) by his domineering mother, Madame Raquin (Jessica Lange). Therese was raised by Madame after her mother passed away and her father decided to leave her in their care before moving to Africa. Therese grew up playing nurse to the often sick Camille, and eventually was forced to marry him. Camille cares for Therese as a brother, but doesn't really show any affection towards her as a husband, which leaves Therese sexually repressed. One day Camille brings an old friend home. His name is Laurent (Oscar Isaac) and he soon begins a secret affair with Therese behind Camille's back, which eventually leads to tragic consequences.
This is the third film I've seen Olsen in over the past two weeks, and despite not choosing the best projects for her I still consider she is a talented actress. She has not reached the same level she did in Martha Marcy May Marlene, but she is someone whose movies I'm always looking forward to. Despite this, I still didn't like the character she played in this film and didn't believe the chemistry she shared with Oscar Isaac on screen. This period drama really relies on that strong chemistry, but other than the forbidden love premise the film doesn't have much going for it. The film explores common issues we've seen in other better films. In Secret uncovers the tragic consequences of dark secrets and how they can end up destroying you. Only Jessica Lange fans might leave this film satisfied because she does deliver the strongest performance in the movie, but nothing else works very well in this uninspired film.