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In Secret (2014)

tomatometer

41

Average Rating: 5.4/10
Reviews Counted: 83
Fresh: 34 | Rotten: 49

Although it benefits from a strong cast, In Secret's stars can't totally compensate for the movie's sodden pacing and overly familiar story.

41

Average Rating: 5.7/10
Critic Reviews: 27
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 16

Although it benefits from a strong cast, In Secret's stars can't totally compensate for the movie's sodden pacing and overly familiar story.

audience

41

liked it
Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 4,778

My Rating

Movie Info

Based on Émile Zola's scandalous novel, Thérèse Raquin, IN SECRET is a tale of obsessive love, adultery and revenge set in the lower depths of 1860s Paris. Therese (Elizabeth Olsen of "Martha Marcy May Marlene"), a sexually repressed beautiful young woman, is trapped into a loveless marriage to her sickly cousin, Camille (Tom Felton of the "Harry Potter" franchise), by her domineering aunt, Madame Raquin (two-time Academy Award winner Jessica Lange). Therese spends her days confined behind the

R,

Mystery & Suspense, Drama

May 20, 2014

$0.4M

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All Critics (83) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (49)

It's most remarkable as a pairing of two inspired actresses with four decades separating them: 25-year-old Elizabeth Olsen, the bewitching star of Martha Marcy May Marlene, and 64-year-old Jessica Lange.

February 21, 2014 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

For those who want sweeping, "In Secret" offers all the essentials - unbridled passion, deceit, fate so unkind, a classically creepy mother and grand tragedy.

February 21, 2014 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Despite its able cast and handsome period costumes, In Secret is, in fact, quite awful.

February 21, 2014 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An effective period piece thriller that incorporates love, lust, desperation, and madness into a stew thickened by a gothic atmosphere.

February 21, 2014 Full Review Source: ReelViews
ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Olsen and Isaac never really create the kind of amour fou that a story like this depends on, let alone the self-loathing guilt that their crime is supposed to engender.

February 21, 2014 Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[A] wicked, The Postman Always Rings Twice-style riff on the 19th-century bodice ripper Thérèse Raquin.

February 20, 2014 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Lange at least has an angle on her character; the rest of the cast simply hit their marks and spout dialogue like robots, delivering lines which should evoke erotic fervour, but are exchanged without urgency, conviction or belief.

May 20, 2014 Full Review Source: The List
The List

Notable largely for the anguished, nuanced performance of Jessica Lange ...

May 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

The problem is that audiences are likely to become as fed up with the murderous lovers (Oscar Isaac, Elizabeth Olsen) as they become with each other.

May 16, 2014 Full Review Source: Independent
Independent

It's a difficult mix for a directorial debut and, whilst Charlie Stratton seems aware of all the strands, it fails to truly convey Thérèse's sense of being trapped.

May 16, 2014 Full Review Source: Irish Independent
Irish Independent

Perhaps the story lends itself rather more to a TV serial, giving Therese time to suffer in her oppressive marriage before embarking on a reckless and ultimately doomed affair.

May 16, 2014 Full Review Source: Daily Mail [UK]
Daily Mail [UK]

It's hard to make a dull version of Thérèse Raquin but they seem to have managed it with In Secret, a dreary, uninspired adaptation of the Emile Zola classic.

May 16, 2014 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

Olson and Isaac are hot but what have you done to the story, Stratton?

May 15, 2014 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

The poison slips down easily enough, but it's diet cola when set against 2009's Korean vampire movie Thirst, still this book's most potent screen translation.

May 15, 2014 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

If O. Henry and Edgar Allan Poe collaborated on a love story, it might look something like this juicy bit of ironic gothic romance.

May 15, 2014 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

Despite compelling performers and source material, In Secret is a ham-fisted misfire.

May 15, 2014 Full Review Source: Digital Spy
Digital Spy

The movie-settish interiors and street exteriors are all painted grunge green or grunge grey: a one-coat Expressionism bordering on one-brush, broad-stroke miserablism.

May 15, 2014 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

Boasts strong performances from a first class cast but never quite justifies its existence.

May 15, 2014 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

A tonally indecisive film, which keeps changing its mind about major issues of remorse and ongoing motivation.

May 15, 2014 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

More glum than gripping.

May 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Sensitive performances from a willing cast bring Zola's novel to life on the big screen.

May 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

As the sex and punishment tale turns into a full-on soap opera in its third act, it's a shame to see this cast saddled with this script.

April 21, 2014 Full Review Source: Columbus Alive
Columbus Alive

A leaden adaptation of Zola's 19th century story of guilt and betrayal

March 23, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

It's visually striking but never subtle about its melodramatic intentions, offering a formulaic story of betrayal and revenge with shallow characters that generally lack emotional and moral complexity.

March 21, 2014 Full Review Source: Cinemalogue.com
Cinemalogue.com

Passionate period drama deals with infidelity, murder.

February 27, 2014 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Spellbinding, intelligent and suspenseful. Jessica Lange, one of the greatest actresses of our time, delivers a mesmerizing, magnificent performance.

February 24, 2014 Full Review Source: NYC Movie Guru
NYC Movie Guru

Audience Reviews for In Secret

It seems like anyone who hooks up with Elizabeth Olsen lately is in for a horrifying revelation, as we're seeing with "Oldboy" and now this, which, beyond that, is not to be compared to "Oldboy", especially when it comes to entertainment value. Yup, I'd say that making an independent period piece set in Paris seems to be a very effective technique in making an erotic thriller rather dull. You know, I can't help but get the feeling that Tom Felton has a big enough secret to keep in real life, because he looks as though he's left Hogwarts very well aware of how to work a wand, if you catch my drift. I'm kidding, because, seriously, Felton can't be that gay if he's married to Elizabeth Olsen, but then again, that's in the acting business, where Neil Patrick Harris made for quite the convincing womanizer on "How I Met Your Mother". At any rate, the dude is getting his lady taken from him, and he should have seen that coming if his competition is Llewyn Davis, because, I'm telling you, the chicks dig a musician. Sure, he was a folk musician, but that had to have made him, like, Mick Jagger back in the 1860s, where they must not have had an especially high standard for exciting artistry, according to this film. Yeah, I like the film a fair bit, but it does tend to drag its feet, no matter how much it tries to save time with expository shortcomings.

The degree of depth to characterization which a drama this intimate should thrive on is questionable, as there is a certain stereotypical thinness to the drawing of certain roles beyond the leads ones, which are still considerably undercooked, especially when it comes to motivations. A lack of background to the characters make it hard to get invested in them, and their conflicts and dramatic actions are hard to get invested in because they're not quite as fleshed as they probably should be, even though no amount of development of notable aspects in the context of storytelling can completely overshadow histrionics. Now, to be based on a 19th century melodrama, this film is surprisingly genuine, although that might simply be because the histrionics are so prominent that you've not choice but to embrace them in the context of this narrative, at least until subtlety issues lapse, distancing believability which in turn further distances one's investment. Dramatic storytelling gets a little carried away at times, and it's not even consistently unique, for although there are enough twists to this period drama's structure for me to question if a lack of originality is as big an issue as many are making out of it, there really is nothing especially unique about this plot, which hits the usual, predictable beat and path, and drags its feet along the way. Developmental shortcomings and perhaps even natural shortcomings rank among the biggest factors in holding the final product back, and also up there is the dragging which helps this film cut through the thinness to a length of just shy of 110 minutes by incorporating meandering material after meandering material, all backed by an expected dryness to Charlie Stratton's direction which further retards momentum in the tight grip of limpness which dull matters down, occasionally to a crawl. Now, my big fear would be that this film would be very often, well, boring, and it's not that, but not either is what I was hoping it would be: a more fleshed out and fresh drama with enough steam and resonance to transcend underwhelmingness. The final product doesn't even manage to come to the brink of rewarding, but there are a number of occasions in which it does, with the help of engaging strengths, many of which keep consistent throughout this at least handsome affair.

The film is at least aesthetically solid, with art directors Jasna Dragovic, Kai Koch and Tibor Lázár restoring 1860s Paris handsomely, or at least with an immersion value that seems handsome before the cinematography by Florian Hoffmeister, whose efforts are as remarkable as anyone's with its absolutely mesmerizing emphasis on specific lighting which almost gothically stresses the bleak in contrast with the hauntingly crisp. The film is gorgeous, and there are times where it's extremely difficult to adequately express that, thus, aesthetic value stands out about as much as, if not more than anything, often to the point of actually supplementing the substance of this drama through style. Newcomer Charlie Stratton's direction is ambitious, though not in a flashy manner, but rather, in a thoughtful manner that actively limps momentum, which all too often slips too far, to the point of a certain blandness, maybe even dullness, yet still manages to hang in their enough to never fully lose engagement value, augmented considerably when Stratton's writing provides material to draw upon with the meditativeness. Stratton's efforts as both writer and director meander, uncertain of how exactly to approach this subject matter, but when inspiration is realized, the depth of this minimalist drama is with it. Émile Zola's "Thérèse Raquin" is a classically audacious and scandalous story of betrayal for the sake of justifying sin, and although the plot is a little minimalist to begin with, and has come be dated as formulaic in the context of a new interpretation, it is juicy, with a potential for tension and resonance that is done some justice at times, despite a lack of intimacy that it never lost, thanks the inspired performances. The cast is strong, and delivers as best it can, with Tom Felton - as a well-intentioned, but flawed young man who fears that he is falling short on his role as a man - and Oscar Isaac - as a passionate man whose love drives him to horrible deeds he comes to regret once the fruits spoil - marking compelling highlights in a supporting cast that Jessica Lange stands out from in a devastatingly committed portrayal of a woman who slowly, but surely deteriorates under the vicious pressure of trauma deriving from tragedy while Lange grows more and more stellar, though not to where she can overshadow the beautiful Elizabeth Olsen, who leads the drama in an also powerfully layered performance that utilizes rich nuance and penetrating emotional range in order to sell the heartbreaking changes in a woman who finds liberation in a sinful love whose horrifying twists come to haunt and gradually destroy her. The acting ranges from engrossing to absolutely amazing, so if you see this film for no other reason, see it for moments of outstanding demonstration of skill within a cast that still can't carry the final product far enough to even border as rewarding, yet nonetheless joins a number of commendable elements in crafting a reasonably compelling, if sadly thin dramatic thriller.

With the cover(s) blown, character depths and motivations feel too undercooked to justify certain melodramatics, while predictability and often dull meanderings further limp things down, until the final product is secured as quite underwhelming, in spite of the immersive art direction, gorgeous cinematography, biting storytelling highlights, and often mesmerizing acting - the strongest of which being by show-stealer Jessica Lange and show-carrier Elizabeth Olsen - that make Charlie Stratton's "In Secret" an adequately engaging drama of so much grit, and only so much bite.

2.5/5 - Fair
July 13, 2014
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron Johnson

Super Reviewer

Sexual repression in the 1860s is not a subject matter often discussed, but in Charlie Stratton's adaptation of Émile Zola's scandalous novel "Thérèse Raquin" (1867) titled "In Secret", this tale is given a shot of rejuvenation thanks to its young and aspiring cast. Elizabeth Olsen is enough reason to view any film these days, with an impressive control over her deliveries and a look that allows her into almost any role. The fact that she has just surfaced as a viable actress (seeing as her sisters were childhood actresses) is astonishing to me and leads me to believe her best performances lie ahead. Playing the title character, Thérèse, whose father drops her off with her aunt Madame Raquin (Academy Award nominated Jessica Lange) at a very young age. As they grow older, the assumption that Thérèse will marry her first cousin, Camille ("Harry Potter" star Tom Felton) grows stronger, but his sickness and general lack of interest in the female sex leaves Thérèse wanting more, a hyper-sexual type that is found masturbating in a field to a shirtless man early on in the film.

When they move to the city and meet Camille's childhood friend, Laurent ("Inside Llewyn Davis" lead Oscar Isaac), Thérèse's sexuality blossoms, pining for the suave artist whose words alone carry her to the brink of orgasm. As one would expect, an affair transpires, eventually leading to the question of what happens next. Does Thérèse remain in a loveless, sexless marriage with Camille? Or does she run away with Laurent? What transpires is along the lines of a Shakespearean tragedy, with everyone playing the roles perfectly. Olsen and Isaac have great chemistry, even after their characters shift into darker versions of themselves. Felton continues to play an excellent villainous character while Lange plays the overbearing mother with a fervor she was made for. Clad with spot-on period set design and costumes, the setting looks to step out of a Charles Dickens novel, playing rich and dark on-screen. Continuing the sexual presence in period films following recent releases like "Hysteria", "A Royal Affair", and "A Dangerous Method", there is something so satisfying about seeing these otherwise dignified people from the past experience the same emotional and stimulating responses that occur in this day and age, with little to no change apart from the fallout that happens afterward.
May 17, 2014
xas5

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • In Secret (Therese) (DE)
  • In Secret (UK)
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