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Sunday, February 23, 2014

In Secret (2014)

In 19th century France, abandoned by her father (Matt Devere) to the care of his sister (Jessica Lange), a young girl (Elizabeth Olsen) finds herself trapped in a loveless and sexless marriage to her cousin (Tom Felton, the HARRY POTTER films). When she takes a lover (Oscar Isaac, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS), they realize getting rid of her husband is the only solution but it's amazing how guilt can dampen a romance. Emile Zola's 1867 novel THERESE RAQUIN has been adapted to film, TV and the stage many times. Most notably Marcel Carne's excellent 1953 film with Simone Signoret and the 1980 BBC production with Kate Nelligan. In his feature film debut, Charlie Stratton (who also wrote the screenplay) gives us an energetic abundance of passion, guilt and fatalism. It's a dark film, literally as the film is in all blacks, grays and browns with only a splash of green to give it any color. Alas, I'm not sure there's a market for a film like this. It's too grim and sexual for the tasteful BBC crowd yet too conventionally "classic" for the multiplex crowd. It's too good to fade away which is exactly what it will do (there were 5 of us on a Sunday matinee) but maybe it will get a second life on DVD. The acting is uniformly excellent: Olsen once again proves she's one of the best young actresses out there, Isaac excels in a totally different turn than his Llewyn Davis and best of all, Jessica Lange who doesn't even let her character's stroke from keeping her from giving a compelling performance. With Shirley Henderson and Matt Lucas.

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