Set in the lower echelons of 1860s Paris, Therese Raquin, a sexually repressed beautiful young woman, is trapped into a loveless marriage to her sickly cousin, Camille, by her domineering ... See full summary »
Set in the lower echelons of 1860s Paris, Therese Raquin, a sexually repressed beautiful young woman, is trapped into a loveless marriage to her sickly cousin, Camille, by her domineering aunt, Madame Raquin. Therese spends her days confined behind the counter of a small shop and her evenings watching Madame play dominoes with an eclectic group. After she meets her husband's alluring friend, Laurent, she embarks on an illicit affair that leads to tragic consequences. Written by
This is actually a well-made movie, but I suspect it will pass largely unnoticed.
The acting is uniformly good, the script, adapted from Émile Zola's first important novel, Thérèse Raquin, nicely done. Jessica Lange should get some sort of commendation for her performance of the older Mme Raquin once she has had her stroke and can only communicate with her eyes and facial expression. Though she is a hateful character in the novel, you can't help feeling sorry for her once she is trapped in her body, and abused by her daughter-in-law and her second husband.
The photography is also good, sometimes very beautiful. It captures both the countryside outside Paris, and the gloom of 19th-century Paris's crowded, narrow streets before Baron Haussmann created the wide boulevards we know and love today.
The problem here is that this is a uniformly gloomy story, and the movie doesn't change that any. It also moves too slowly. Granted, having read the novel several times I already knew the plot, but the movie did not hold me. I kept looking at my watch, wondering how much longer it would take to get to the grizzly, melodramatic end.
Fans of Ms. Lange should definitely see this movie for her performance. Oscar Isaac's Laurent is too "nice" for the bestial character in Zola's novel, but that may have been a director's or a producer's choice to make the movie more appealing to his fans and American audiences in general. Elizabeth Olsen is very convincing as Thérèse, but it's not an appealing role. Any sympathy we might feel for her early on is not developed, and quickly lost once she turns shrewish.
A fine production of a not particularly appealing novel.
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