In Secret is the twisted Romeo and Juliet story of Thérèse Raquin (Elizabeth Olsen), a 19th century French woman who was abandoned by her father at a young age to be raised by her domineering aunt, Madame Raquin (Jessica Lange). Raquin eventually becomes trapped in an unemotional marriage to her sickly cousin Camille (Tom Felton), while engaging in a steamy love affair with her husband’s friend, Laurent (Oscar Isaac).
So, I will start with the good: there was beautiful cinematography throughout - the camera was always in an interesting place, and the lighting was soft and romantic. It was always lovely to look at and the acting was good. I mean, she's Jessica Lange, what else would you expect? Olsen and Isaac were good, Felton was believable enough. They and the rest of the cast, as actors, did what they were supposed to do.
However, though the film looked beautiful, it had absolutely no substance. The writing wasn't great, the story arc was weak, the pacing was forced and anticlimactic, the message was convoluted and forgotten. The director Charlie Stratton adapted the story from a book, and I could tell, but not in the good way; basically, this story should have stayed in novel format.
Also, the sex, i.e. the film’s main selling point, wasn't steamy at all: it tried so hard and failed. Nothing felt warranted, and there was little emotional impact on the audience. It was hard to feel with the characters; I mean, Lange did perform an epic mourning breakdown that tickled a couple of my heartstrings, but I felt little throughout the film besides that, and that speaks to the effectiveness of her performance and efforts, not to the effectiveness of the movie as a whole. Some of it even skewed comical and absurd, which I would say was unintentional. I don’t know what to say: should I call it a beautiful disaster, or a waste of my (and all those talented actors’!) time?