No comedy in "In Secret" (opening at a few theaters), which Pierce says is an unrelentingly grim adaptation of Emile Zola's novel "Therese Raquin." It centers on a young woman (Elizabeth Olsen) betrothed to a sickly man (Tom Felton, a k a Draco Malfoy from the "Harry Potter" films), but who falls for his virile best friend (Oscar Isaac, from "Inside Llewyn Davis").
The other big studio opening this week is "Pompeii," a 3-D historical disaster story about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. — told via a love story between a slave-turned-gladiator (Kit Harington) and a Roman lass (Emily Browning). (Any similarities to the plot of "Titanic" — poor guy, rich gal, big cataclysm — are coincidental, no doubt.) It was not screened for local critics.
The one movie The Cricket did see this week is "The Rocket," a family drama set in Laos. It follows a 10-year-old (Sitthiphon Disamoe) who thinks he has a solution for his family's financial struggles: Winning a town's rocket-making contest. The drama offers rich detail about life in modern-day Laos, where village tradition and global progress collide.
Lastly, the Broadway is opening "Like Father, Like Son," which won the Jury Prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival. It centers on a businessman (Fukuyama Masaharu) who learns that his 6-year-old son is not his biological child. The film is directed by the great filmmaker Kore-eda Hirokazu ("Nobody Knows," "After Life"). For reasons too boring to get into, The Cricket was unable to review it.