In the classic tradition of film noir women, Faye Dunaway portrays Evelyn Mulwray as a person defined entirely by the secret she keeps. Her secret dictates the paced, careful precision with which she speaks, suggesting that every word is internally monitored before being let out into the world. It is also the reason Evelyn is so inwardly focused and distant and explains why she is so quick to take offense at even the most casual of personal comments. The moments when this shell cracks move the character beyond the genre cliché. Evelyn does not hide her secret as well as she thinks she does, and she occasionally lets her control slip. Tear-stained and lost, she seems desperate for a guide or protector in place of the father who betrayed her trust. At times, she reflects her fragile, hidden daughter Katherine.
During a brief window of time with Jake, Evelyn transforms into a woman who has had little chance to enjoy life. Through their encounters and brief romance she manages to reveal both quick thinking and a sense of humor. Evelyn craves the intimacy with Jake that she has often denied herself, both through sex and through wanting to hear more about his past. Ultimately, this urge is not strong enough to overcome the secret that dominates her life.