Cinema Review: In Secret | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, February 27th, 2021  

In Secret

Studio: Roadside Attractions
Directed by Charlie Stratton

Feb 18, 2014 Web Exclusive
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Comely French waif Therese (Elizabeth Olsen) was dealt a bum lot in life. Her mother has run away, and her father dumps her off on an overbearing aunt (Jessica Lange) just before dying somewhere off the coast of Africa. She’s conscripted as a caretaker for her sickly, generally icky cousin Camille (Tom Felton) and eventually domineered into marrying him. The trio move to Paris and open a textile shop, and Therese’s unhappy life rolls on; that is, until she falls into a passionate affair with her husband’s free-thinking artist friend, Laurent (Oscar Isaac.)

No knocks to Emile Zola—who wrote the 1867 French novel which serves as In Secret’s source material—but the story is stretched excruciatingly thin in this adaptation. Every key plot beat is easily-project from miles away, or mulled over by its miserable young lovers for punishingly long swaths of runtime. It’s a real shame, because the cast can act circles around this flimsy material; particularly Lange, who chews up her role as the household’s imperious matriarch. As a period drama, In Secret is stuffy, predictable, and often boring, and it never really succeeds as an erotic thriller, either. Who possibly could have thought watching these attractive leads ceaselessly boinking under ten layers of billowing skirts would be such a drag? (On that note: who thought it’d sustain 101 minutes?)

Author rating: 3/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10


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