Charlie Stratton puts aside his years of acting to sit in the Director’s chair this time around, bringing the novel Therese Raquin to life with his latest film – In Secret.

As we find ourselves thrust once again into the 1800’s – seems that this era is the backdrop for many films this time of year – we meet Therese Raquin (Elizabeth Olson), a young girl who is orphaned by the death of her mother and the abandonment of her father.  With no other living relatives, Therese is dropped at the doorstep of her father’s sister, Madame Raquin (Jessica Lange).  Madame has been widowed and is raising her ailing young son Camille (Tom Felton).  Therese seems to be lost in the fray of all their lives, playing second fiddle to her cousin Camille, yet being forced to help care for him all throughout their childhood. 

While the years roll by, neither Therese nor Camille have much contact with the outside world, relying on one another for friendship.

Now, both grown and wanting to live out their lives as the adults they have become, Therese is besieged with passion from within, longing for a man to satisfy her urges.  Madame is oblivious to Therese or her needs, when she decides that the best thing for her son, who has just secured a job in Paris, is for him and Therese to marry, as she is “his guardian angel” and he needs to have a wife to secure a home in Paris for them.

Distraught over being forced to marry Camille, and living in a loveless marriage, Therese pines away in the fabric store that Madame has created for them to live and work in.   When Camille invites his old friend Laurant (Oscar Isaac – of Inside Llewyn Davis fame) to dinner, Therese is instantly smitten and mesmerized by his manliness.  Laurant is also taken in by Therese’s beauty, and soon finds that they share an unmistakable passion for one another, as they embark upon an assorted and illicit affair…

Will Therese and Laurant get caught as their trysts seem to happen all throughout the day in Camille’s absence and right under Madame’s nose?  Will Camille finally decide to make Camille his wife, in every sense of the word, as he senses her sadness with their lives together? Or will the passion that Therese and Camille feel lead them to perform the unthinkable, so that they can finally live together as man and wife?

I give IN SECRET a C:  As I love Jessica Lange, and love nothing more than reading a good romantic novel, or viewing a good romantic film for that matter, IN SECRET lacked a lot of real substance for me.    The passion between Laurant and Therese is at times totally believable, but once they do the unthinkable, and I’m not talking about having sex out of wedlock, the movie just seems to take forever to get to the climax (no pun intended).   Lange’s portrayal didn’t WOW ME either, as she is playing the same character we have seen from her many times before, with nothing added.    Suffice to say that I left the theater feeling like everything about the movie was just average for me…….

Kathy Kaiser

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