Extra DVD: In Secret (15)

In Secret: Elizabeth Olsen as Therese Raquin.
In Secret: Elizabeth Olsen as Therese Raquin.

Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Oscar Isaac, Tom Felton, Jessica Lange, Shirley Henderson, Matt Lucas, Mackenzie Crook, John Kavanagh, Lily Laight, Matt Devere, Dimitrije Bogdanov.

Therese (Lily Laight) is abandoned by her father (Matt Devere) into the care of her domineering aunt, Madame Raquin (Jessica Lange), and sickly cousin Camille (Dimitrije Bogdanov).

The boy’s persistent coughing keeps Therese awake at night so by the time she turns 21, Therese (now played by Elizabeth Olsen) is wearily devoted to Camille (Tom Felton) as a nursemaid.

Madame Raquin orchestrates a marriage between the cousins and the dysfunctional family transplants to Paris where Camille secures employment as a clerk and Therese serves behind the counter of Madame’s shop.

Out of the blue, Camille’s old friend Laurent (Oscar Isaac) visits the Raquins and ignites Therese’s dormant desires. Sexual tension sparks an affair and Therese succumbs to her primal longings in a room above the shop.

Based on Emile Zola’s scandalous 1867 novel Therese Raquin, In Secret is an artfully composed tableau of sexual repression and murderous intent that piles a powder keg of destructive emotion beneath the lead characters.

Unfortunately, when the time comes to light the fuse, we haven’t forged a strong connection to any of the morose protagonists. Sexual chemistry between Olsen and Isaac barely simmers and Felton’s maligned husband is an insipid wimp.

Only Lange fully enters into the spirit of Zola’s source text, delivering a commanding performance that holds our attention, even when her grief-stricken harridan is recovering from a medical emergency that renders her mute.

Nothing is left to nuance in writer-director Charlie Stratton’s overwrought screenplay and composer Gabriel Yared adopts a similarly heavy-handed approach with his score.

Rating: 3/5