‘In Secret:’ This movie’s better than the book
Published: February 19, 2014
Sure, people spoke differently in 1867 than, say, 2014, but that’s a mouthful of corn in any century. Still, somehow, as Olsen says it, caressing Isaac during a rendezvous, her voice low and relaxed while she’s away for a few moments from her pathetic life, it works.
Isaac, for all his promise in Drive and Inside Llewyn Davis, doesn’t come off as well, but that’s probably because Laurent exists solely as a dramatic device that allows Thérèse to effectively access the dark side. Lange appears much better. She uses a steely gaze that makes even Madame Raquin’s most innocuous movements sinister. Better yet is the way she tosses out perfectly dreadful statements about Thérèse’s place in their family as if the poor girl were just an afterthought.
Eventually, like Thérèse Raquin, In Secret slows to a crawl. After Thérèse and Laurent drown Camille—off camera, but there are fleeting, horrible glimpses in flashback—they sink into a passionless marriage that’s been destroyed by memories of their crime. It’s in the movie’s final 20 minutes that Thérèse and Laurent spit bile at each other and treat Madame Raquin, who’s been sidelined by a stroke, like a rag doll, hauling her from room to room in the house while pointing fingers at each other.
The deliberate pace in the book is torture; on screen it makes sense. All of the characters are trapped in a terrible existence that makes each day feel like a month. And the ending is inevitable—but only because it’s written that way.
Writ. and dir. Charlie Stratton; feat. Elizabeth Olsen, Oscar Isaac, Jessica Lange, Tom Felton (R)
Opens Fri, Feb 21 at Santikos Bijou, Embassy 14, Northwest, Palladium and Regal Fiesta and Huebner Oaks Stadium 14