Watching the 2011 film 10Years, it was hard to take your eyes off Oscar Isaac, even in an ensemble cast that includes Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, Justin Long, and Kate Mara. It was hard not to take notice of how profoundly his eyes engaged in the moment, how much honesty and vulnerability they expressed. It was hard not to notice his natural passion and sexuality. In a film about a large group of friends reconnecting at their high school reunion, I wanted to see more of his character. And, when I saw him in Drive, it was like “Yes, there’s that guy again!”
The Guatemalan-American, Juilliard-trained, Golden Globe nominated actor (for his role in last year’s Inside Llewyn Davis) is well beyond “talked-about” and set to star in the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII. Elizabeth Olsen is riding even higher, garnering critical acclaim regularly and recently starring in this year’s biggest blockbuster so far Godzilla. And, of course Jessica Lange is (sometimes literally) killing it season after season on American Horror Story, putting her at the top of the list (and not surprisingly- she does have two Oscars, after all) of the most compelling actresses on television.
It would be safe to assume that with In Secret, uniting these three intriguing actors in a period piece based on Émile Zola’s 1867 novel Thérèse Raquin would result in a dark, but sweeping and entertaining drama. Writer-director Charlie Stratton does however pack in all the gloom and doom that the story conveys, and that is usually bred by lust and lies.
At a young age Thérèse (Elizabeth Olsen) is sent from living with her father in Africa to staying with her lonely aunt Madame Raquin (Jessica Lange) and sickly cousin Camille (Tom Felton)in the French countryside. Upon her father’s death Thérèse has no choice but to marry Camille (Tom Felton) and move to Paris, where her new husband takes a desk job. The three-member family lives above their newly-opened fabric shop, where they often entertain friends, such as Camille’s artistic and handsome colleague Laurant (Oscar Isaac), which whom Therese begins a long and ultimately ill-fated affair.
The acting throughout the film is great across the board, including Tom Felton as the unwell and unknowing Camille. Elizabeth Olsen and Oscar Isaac certainly deliver the excitement and sensuality that the film calls for and Jessica Lange is as effortlessly shadowy and troubled as we are used to seeing her by now.Still In Secret is a murky story about deception and unbridled lust and while Stratton and his cast tell the story adequately and faithfully it leaves you with a lingering fogginess of a good, old tragedy.