Movie review: Trashy period erotic thriller “In Secret” turns soap opera

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From the February 20, 2014 edition

Here’s an accomplishment in the age of “50 Shades of Grey.” “In Secret” takes a work of literature and a talented cast and reduces it to trashy chick-lit erotic thriller.

Writer-director Charlie Stratton works from the 1867 novel “Thérèse Raquin” by Émile Zola with great earnestness and self-importance, but the overall effort feels like quite a waste.

Therese Raquin (Elizabeth Olsen) is trapped in a loveless marriage with her cold fish cousin (Tom Felton), a relationship arranged by her calculating aunt (Jessica Lange). When she meets a seductive painter (Oscar Isaac), they begin a passionate affair that has wide-reaching consequences.

With gorgeous cinematography and a Parisian period setting, “In Secret” would seem aimed at the art house crowd, though it also contains enough (fully clothed) sexuality for an episode of “Red Shoe Diaries.”

As the sex and punishment tale turns into a full-on soap opera in its third act, it’s a shame to see this cast saddled with this script. The youngest Olsen (her sisters are the Twins) was a revelation in “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” but she hasn’t matched those heights. Lange is in pure evil stepmother mode, and Felton does little to eliminate memories of his most famous role, Draco Malfoy. “Inside Llewyn Davis” star Isaac is all steely gazes and fiery outbursts.

Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions