|'ends up occupying this slightly curious middle ground where it wants to be erotic but not explicit; sexy but not revealing; charged but with more than a modicum of reserve'|
The much told story of Thérèse Raquin (Elizabeth Olsen), Charlie Stratton's In Secret is the fourteenth TV or film adaptation of Émile Zola's 1867 novel about a frustrated young wife during the same period in Paris.
Stratton's approach to Zola's text is somewhat awkward. On the one hand, he seems to want to play up the sexual repression of Thérèse whilst playing down any potential titillation the lifting of that repression might entail. On the one hand, given how the story progresses, you can understand this approach but on the other In Secret ends up occupying this slightly curious middle ground where it wants to be erotic but not explicit; sexy but not revealing; charged but with more than a modicum of reserve. It's as if they were aiming for a 12A, missed it and decided they couldn't be bothered to change a couple of the raunchier moments.
Meanwhile, this approach means that the potential evils of Camille (Tom Felton) and Madame Raquin (Jessica Lange) are played down as their characters are, whilst Thérèse's promiscuousness is played up. The result is that it is very hard to feel for Madame and almost impossible to feel for Camille. The players do not help. Felton must now be getting close to becoming the most typecast young actor in history, whilst Lange goes right off the deep end into full melodrama mode.
Then, just to muddy the waters further, Stratton introduces a supporting cast of light comic relief including Matt Lucas, Mackenzie Crook and Shirley Henderson's pitched accent. For those who know the details of the story, you'll know that it isn't exactly sweetness and light at moments either, so In Secret ends up a dark Romance, with light comic relief, which wants to be sexual but not sensual, whilst telling a story about repression and adultery. Sound confused and unsatisfying? It is a little of both. Young stars Olsen and Oscar Isaac are not well served.
In Secret is currently playing on Sky Movies.