An adaptation of Emile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin, In Secret is high melodrama. The film functions successfully as such, although those expecting a serious period drama may be surprised.
Sent to live with her aunt and sickly cousin, Thérèse Raquin finds her life restricted. It is only after the family move to Paris that Thérèse has more freedom, but this comes at a cost…
Director Charlie Stratton’s adaptation of Zola’s story is a period drama that offers comic amusement with its brand of humour and entertainment with its melodrama. The film is played out in the style of a soap opera, with moments of emotion heightened to the point of camp.
It is In Secret‘s comedy that indicate that the melodrama in the film is deliberate rather than accidental. If it was not for the overt comedy stylings, In Secret could be considered an attempt at serious drama gone awry. The film works perfectly at the level of cam melodrama. Stratton and the screenwriters surely know this, and pepper the film with amusing asides and covertly comic supporting characters.
The plot of In Secret is played out in an extravagant manner. With the passion and tone, events move briskly and without a great deal of depth or pondering. As a result, viewers may feel that they do not have the chance to really get to know the characters beyond a superficial level. Ultimately, this is not a major problem as the tone ensues that most will simply be eager to reach the next twist in proceedings.
Cinematography in the film works well, with some beautifully composed shots. Costumes and art direction are also good. Jessica Lange is ever the scene stealer, offering a performance in keeping with the tone of In Secret. Elizabeth Olsen and Oscar Isaac show strengths in different areas.
In Secret may not please all, but those who submit to the melodrama should find it an entertaining watch.