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Originally published February 20, 2014 at 3:05 PM | Page modified February 20, 2014 at 3:44 PM

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‘In Secret’: same old story, different costumes

Based on the novel “Thérèse Raquin” by Zola “In Secret” has an appealing elegance to it, but writer/director Charlie Stratton’s hand is a bit too heavy.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 2.5 stars

‘In Secret,’ with Elizabeth Olsen, Oscar Isaac, Tom Felton, Jessica Lange, Shirley Henderson. Written and directed by Charlie Stratton, based on the novel “Thérèse Raquin” by Emile Zola and the subsequent stage play by Neal Bell. 109 minutes. Rated R for sexual content and brief violent images. Several theaters.

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“In Secret” is all whispers and heaving bosoms and furtive trysts; it’s kind of a 19th-century “Fatal Attraction,” minus the boiled bunny. In the 1860s French countryside, a lovely orphan named Therese (Elizabeth Olsen) is forced by her domineering aunt (Jessica Lange) into marrying her sickly cousin (Tom Felton, a world away from Draco Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” movies). They move to Paris, where Therese’s eye falls on the handsome Laurent (Oscar Isaac, a world away from “Inside Llewyn Davis”). Bodices rip, suspicions fly, and soon things turn picturesquely murderous, with equally striking remorse.

Based on the novel “Thérèse Raquin” by Zola (and a subsequent play by Neal Bell), “In Secret” has an appealing elegance to it; the soft candlelight, shadowy interiors and finely detailed costumes are a pleasure. But writer/director Charlie Stratton’s hand is a bit too heavy: We’re shown a caged animal in the park, a shot of Therese gazing out through windowpanes that look like cell bars, a lingering gaze at a butcher as he hacks away at raw meat. Though it’s always a pleasure seeing Lange being theatrically anguished (you expect the skies to part with thunder), or Olsen’s doleful beauty, “In Secret” never quite rings true. It feels like a story we’ve seen before, in different clothing.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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