In Secret

  • Review Date: February 20, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 102 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Passionate period drama deals with infidelity, murder.
  • Review Date: February 20, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 102 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

On the positive side, the movie shows the downside of the oppression of women in days past, as well as the importance of love and passion in people's lives. On the other hand, the movie dwells on how passion can turn to desperation and mixes sexuality and murder in a disturbing way.

Positive role models

Central characters are murderers or complicit in murder.


A man drowns another and it's a knockdown fight that might be hard to watch for sensitive viewers. A husband manhandles his wife in one of many arguments. A woman nearly drowns and two people attempt suicide. A corpse is shown at the morgue in a state of decay.


A fair amount of steamy sex scenes showing a couple in various compromising positions. Though we don't see any genitals, there are glimpses of a woman's breast from the side.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some drinking, mostly in social situations. One scene shows an inebriated couple arguing.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that In Secret is a period drama with lots of steamy sex scenes, though there's no explicit nudity. The movie is light on joy and has a fair serving of intense scenes with couples fighting loudly, and sometimes physically. A man is drowned by another and several characters attempt suicide. The material is fairly mature, and tackles such subjects as infidelity, exploitation, and murder. 

What's the story?

Based on Emile Zola's novel, Therese Raquin, IN SECRET tells the story of Therese (Elizabeth Olsen), a woman married off to her first cousin, Camille (Tom Felton), by his controlling mother, Madame Raquin (Jessica Lange), after growing up together. Her father had abandoned her when she was just a young girl with her aunt, and never returned. When they move from the countryside to Paris, where she works at the beck and call of the Madame in a little shop on a dingy side street in the city, they meet a childhood friend of Camille's, the enigmatic Laurent (Oscar Isaac). He ignites a passion in Therese that she never knew existed, and they fall headlong into a mad affair that drives them to get rid of anyone who stands in their way. But to what end?

Is it any good?


In Secret is a literary classic that gets bodice-ripper treatment here, a story of passion that at times begins to feel like a fascinating examination of guilt and conscience, but is undermined by a Harlequin romance vibe. Despite a bleak and dreary tableau, which fits the storyline, the film's gorgeous to look at; scenes look painterly, like works of art that deserve to be hung in a museum. The acting's superb, too, though the mostly excellent Lange sometimes tips over into Gothic-horror-story caricature.

Still, Isaac and Olsen share little chemistry, making it tough to buy into the stakes raised by their illicit coupling. A movie that could've brought Zola's words to life ends up failing to summon its urgency and depth. While teens might enjoy the doomed lovers storyline, the mix of sexuality and violence is too edgy for most.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how women were treated in the 1860s. Why is Therese not able to make decisions for herself? How is she treated? Does her situation excuse her behavior?

  • Talk to your kids about the role that secretiveness plays in the movie. How does it imprison the characters? Have you ever kept a secret? How did it feel?

  • How did the movie express that it was from a different time period?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 21, 2014
DVD release date:May 20, 2014
Cast:Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Felton, Jessica Lange, Oscar Isaac
Director:Charlie Stratton
Studio:Roadside Attractions
Topics:Book characters, History
Run time:102 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sexual content and brief violent images

This review of In Secret was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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