Friday, September 07, 2018
Based on the novel Therese Raquin by Emile Zola and its stage play by Neal Bell, In Secret is the story of a young woman who has an affair with a friend of husband as they conspire to get rid of her husband whom she is forced into marriage by her aunt. Written for the screen and directed by Charlie Stratton, the film is an exploration of a woman trying to fulfill her sexual and emotional desires in an affair as well as the actions that would occur to maintain this affair. Starring Elizabeth Olsen, Oscar Isaac, Tom Felton, Matt Lucas, Shirley Henderson, Mackenzie Crook, and Jessica Lange. In Secret is a riveting and haunting film from Charlie Stratton.
Set in 19th Century France, the film revolves around a young woman who lives with her aunt and her ailing cousin as she is forced to marry the latter upon moving to Paris where she begins an affair with her cousin’s best friend in the city. It’s a film with a simple premise as it play into a woman’s own sexual desires and feeling repressed in her family home but the move to Paris would bring a lot but also trouble when she and her lover decide to kill her cousin/husband. Charlie Stratton’s screenplay does have a straightforward narrative as it play into repression that Therese Raquin (Elizabeth Olsen) is dealing as she was sent to live with her aunt (Jessica Lange) when she was a child and had to share the room with her sickly cousin Camille (Tom Felton).
The move to Paris would mark a change for Therese except that she would be forced to marry Camille for the move to happen as she accepts the decision only to find herself falling for his friend Laurent LeClaire (Oscar Isaac). The affair would fulfill Therese sexually and emotionally but it would also lead to troubles that include the film’s second half where there isn’t just this element of guilt looming but also this air of grief that starts to loom throughout the characters.
Stratton’s direction is straightforward in terms of the compositions that are created as much of the film is shot on location in Belgrade, Serbia and some of the city locations at Budapest, Hungary. While there aren’t a lot of wide shots in the compositions, Stratton would use medium shots and close-ups to play into the drama as well as characters dealing with their environment and situations. Notably in scenes that play into Therese’s attraction with Laurent as they keep their affair a secret while they also conspire in getting rid of Camille though he’s never did anything wrong other than be dependent on due to his ailments. It would add Therese’s own anguish as even though doesn’t like Camille much, she still cares about him and his mother who would succumb to grief in the most extreme way during its third act. Stratton’s direction would create elements of surrealism as well as playing up to this idea of guilt and torment along with the possibility of the actions that Therese and Laurent have committed. Overall, Stratton creates a compelling and eerie film about a woman and her lover trying to maintain an affair by committing a horrible crime.
Cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it does play into some of the dark colors and low-key lights for some of the interior scenes at night as well as the look of some of the daytime exteriors including the scenes at the forests and rivers. Editors Celia Haining, Leslie Jones, and Paul Tothill does nice work with the editing as it is straightforward with some rhythmic cuts to play into the drama. Production designer Uli Hanisch, with set decorator Michael Fechner and supervising art director Kai Koch, does brilliant work with the look of the shop Therese and her aunt would run as well as the clerk station that Camille and Laurent would work at and the apartment above the shop. Costume designer Pierre-Yves Gayraud does fantastic work with the costumes as it play into the period of mid-19th Century France that includes the gorgeous dresses that Therese wears.
Makeup designer Erika Okvist does amazing work with the sideburns that Laurent sports as well as the oily look of Camille. Visual effects supervisor Robert Pik does terrific work with the visual effects as it largely play into bits of set-dressing as well as a few surreal moments in the film. Sound designer Paul Carter and sound editor Michael Maroussas do superb work with the sound as it play into some of the dramatic moments that goes on at the apartment as well as at some of the film’s locations. The film’s music by Gabriel Yared is wonderful for its orchestral score that ranges from being serene for the romantic scenes to ominous themes for the dramatic and suspenseful moments in the film.
The casting by Katalin Baranyi, Deanna Brigidi, and Elaine Grainger is marvelous as it features some notable small roles from Dimitrjie Bogdanov as the young Camille, Lily Laight as the young Therese, Matt Devere as Therese’s father, John Kavanagh as Inspector Michaud who is a family friend of the Raquins that would later try to investigate matters in the film, Matt Lucas as the inspector’s son Olivier who provides some humor while he along with his wife and father and a friend would play dominoes with the Raquins, and Mackenzie Crook as Grivet as a family friend who is befuddled by the events during the film’s second half. Shirley Henderson is fantastic as Olivier’s wife Suzanne who suspects something is up between Therese and Laurent while becoming concerned for both Therese and Madame Raquin during the film’s third act.
Tom Felton is excellent as Camille as an ailing young man that at times selfish and demanding yet is also someone who wants to impress Therese and be a good man for her despite his many shortcomings as it has Felton play a role of humility. Oscar Isaacs is brilliant as Laurent LeClaire as a childhood friend of Camille who falls for Therese where he begins an affair with her only to bring dark ideas that he would share with Camille only to act out through cruel ways in its aftermath. Jessica Lange is amazing as Madame Raquin as this woman who doesn’t like the idea of being alone where she is a bit cruel but also is understanding as Lange shows her best work in the way she copes with grief but also anger through a sense of physicality as it is a master at work. Finally, there’s Elizabeth Olsen in an incredible performance as Therese Raquin as a young woman who is forced into a marriage with her cousin as she deals with being in a one-sided marriage despite her efforts to make it work while falling for Laurent that fulfills her sexual desires only to later deal with guilt and unhappiness in the aftermath of the actions she and Laurent had committed.
In Secret is a marvelous film from Charlie Stratton that features great performances from Elizabeth Olsen, Oscar Isaac, and Jessica Lange. Along with its gorgeous locations and setting as well as its emphasis on suspense and romantic drama. It’s a film that explore the idea of desire and sexual fulfillment but also what some will do to maintain that desire to great extremes. In the end, In Secret is a remarkable film from Charlie Stratton.
© thevoid99 2018