Friday, February 21, 2014

IN SECRET Review: Javi's Take

Directed by: Charlie Stratton
Written by:  Charlie Stratton, based on the novel "“Thérèse Raquin” by Emile Zola
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Oscar Isaac, Tom Felton and Jessica Lange
Synopsis: A young woman forcibly married to her cousin engages in a steamy affair.

Sometimes the parts of a movie turn out to be much better than the finished product. IN SECRET is full of amazing actors and has some great set and costume design, but somewhere along the lines, the script prevent the characters or the story from being compelling.

The best part of the movie is the four leads. Between Elizabeth Olsen, Oscar Isaac's indie cred, Jessica Lange's reputation, the curiosity of wanting to see Tom Felton play someone that's not Draco Malfoy, AND the fact that it's set in the 1800's should be enough to make a movie buff want to go see it. The story deals with young Therese (Olsen), who is dropped off to her aunt's (Lange) place. There, her aunt takes care of Camille (Felton), who is constantly frail and sick. When they grow up, Therese and Camille are forced to marry and move to Paris. In Paris, Therese begins an affair with Laurent, a co-worker of Camille's which brings about a whole different set of problems.

To begin, the movie is gorgeous in the way that it recreates the look of 1890's Paris. It's grimy and nasty, yet it's also really beautiful. The sets are all well done with the dust and the lived-in look of the various rooms. Any time that the Isaac and Olsen are on screen, you can feel the chemistry between their characters, but that's about it.

The biggest issue of the movie is that the characters are very thinly written. This story is supposed to be from the point of view of Therese. One of the ways that she is described is being sexually repressed, but the only time that you even get a good hint of that is when she's looking at a shirtless man in the field. The aunt character is meant to be a selfish and oppressive, but without the proper context of Therese's point of view or character, her character's actions come off as selfish instead of rebellious.

To add to the issues of the movie, the way that it is structure created quite a few moments where things are happening but are not driving the plot forward. Looking back, there were maybe four big plot points with a lot of padding. And though this would vary depending on your experience, knowing that there is an affair and the certain plot points of this type of story, you end up twirling your thumbs a lot.

IN SECRET had a lot of great things going for it, especially in the cast, but that doesn't save the movie from feeling very uneven and ultimately unsatisfying.

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