A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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?
While teens might enjoy the doomed lovers storyline, the mix of sexuality and violence is too edgy for most. 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- In theaters: February 21, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: May 20, 2014
- Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Felton, Jessica Lange, Oscar Isaac
- Director: Charlie Stratton
- Studio: Roadside Attractions
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, History
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sexual content and brief violent images
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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