Film & DVD
‘In Secret’ is better than the book
Movie adaptation of Émile Zola’s dreary novel Thérèse Raquin works better on screen than in print
Published: February 19, 2014
“You have no idea how much they’ve stolen from me. I almost ran away twice but [Madame Raquin] always told me I couldn’t survive without them, and I believed her. And now there’s nothing left of me but burned wick and a wisp of smoke.”
Sure, people spoke differently in 1867 than, say, 2014, but that’s a mouthful of corn in any century. Still, as Olsen says it, caressing Isaac during a rendezvous, her voice low and relaxed while she’s away for a few moments from her pathetic life, it works.
Isaac, for all his promise in Drive and Inside Llewyn Davis, doesn’t come off as well, but that’s probably because Laurent exists solely as a dramatic device by which Thérèse may effectively turn to the dark side. Lange comes off much better. She uses a steely gaze that makes even Madame Raquin’s most innocuous movements sinister. Better yet is the way she tosses out perfectly dreadful statements about Thérèse’s place in their family as if the poor girl were just an afterthought.
Eventually, In Secret slows to a crawl. After Thérèse and Laurent drown Camille, they sink into a passionless marriage that’s been destroyed by memories of their crime. It’s in the movie’s final 20 minutes that Thérèse and Laurent spit bile at each other and treat Madame Raquin, who’s been sidelined by a stroke, like a rag doll, hauling her from room to room in the house while pointing fingers at each other.
The deliberate pace in the book is torture; on screen it makes sense. All of the characters are trapped in a horrible existence that makes each day feel like a month. And the ending is inevitable, but only because it’s written that way.
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