- Eddie Harrison
- 20 May 2014
An unimaginative adaptation of Emile Zola's Therese Raquin, starring Oscar Isaac and Elizabeth Olsen
Emile Zola's tale of love and betrayal in Therese Raquin has traditionally been cherished by those without imaginations of their own, making it one of the most overused plot-lines in cinema; this risible film takes inspiration from a play adaptation by Neal Bell, whose main writing credit seems to be unloved Dallas spin-off Knots Landing. Jobbing actor Charlie Stratton is similarly under-qualified to direct, and proves unable to get consistent performances from an inexplicably strong cast.
Elizabeth Olsen, so good in Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene, makes for a simpering Therese, who finds herself constrained by the mores and morals of mid 19th century Parisian life. She unwillingly accepts a marriage of convenience to sickly twit Camille (a simply awful performance from Harry Potter's Draco Malfoy, Tom Felton). Therese soon finds herself in the throes of earthy passion with saturnine smoothie artist Laurent (Oscar Isaac), and they soon realise that they need to get Camille's pasty face out of the way, but the fearsome Madame Raquin (Jessica Lange) begins to suspect the lovers' unholy plan...
This version of Zola's story has been hampered with casting changes, with Kate Winslet and Jessica Biel previously mooted as Therese, and Gerard Butler as Laurent. In lieu of such star-power, the second team fail to impress, with Isaac dressed as some kind of Dickensian chimney-sweep, all waistcoat and sideburns, while Olsen never convinces for a second as Therese. The acting honours go by default to Jessica Lange, who at least conjures up some beady-eyed venom as the wronged mother. While somewhat over the top, Lange at least has an angle on her character; the rest of the cast simply hit their marks and spout dialogue like robots, delivering lines which should evoke erotic fervour, but are exchanged without urgency, conviction or belief.
General release from Fri 16 May.