If O. Henry and Edgar Allan Poe collaborated on a love story, it might look something like this juicy bit of ironic gothic romance. It’s 1860s Paris, and Thérèse (Elizabeth Olsen: Godzilla) has been lumbered with her dull, sickly cousin, Camille (Tom Felton: Rise of the Planet of the Apes), in a loveless marriage forced on her by her aunt, Madame Raquin (Jessica Lange: The Vow), as a sort of demented payment for her having raised Thérèse after her father abandoned her when she was little. (That’s right: the cousin she’s married to is more like a brother. Ick.) Enter Camille’s friend Laurent (Oscar Isaac: Inside Llewyn Davis), who is handsome, artistically talented, and not a blood relation. The torrid affair Thérèse and Laurent embark upon is shot with sexy mystery by first-time writer-director Charlie Stratton: there’s barely any nudity, but there is — *fans self* — lots of sweaty impatience and emotional and physical desperation. Now, if only they could get Camille out of the way, they wouldn’t have to hide and pretend… In Secret is deliciously salacious in how it plays out its messy violent tragedy, which would seem to be a twist on the “let’s you and me kill my spouse” trope, except that this is based on a novel that’s a century and a half old — Émile Zola’s 1867 Thérèse Racquin — so why isn’t its wise truth reflected more often in pop culture? Fun performances from everyone — they all know this is glorious kitsch — make for a bodice-ripping good time, with a touch of steamy warning about why murder might not be the best sauce for romance.
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