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Secret in Their Eyes - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Secret in Their Eyes
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B-
Cinematography: B
Editing: B-

Secret in Their Eyes is like the adult-contemporary-music version of movies opening this weekend -- something for people who fancy themselves more "grown up" than the kids going to see movies like The Hunger Games or The Night Before. Which is to say, this movie is not going to make a lot of money. I went to see it on opening night and not only was it screening in one of the smaller theaters at the multiplex, there couldn't have been more than twenty people in it.

I wish I could say it's too bad, but, really, it doesn't matter. This movie works well enough, but there's nothing imperative about it. Apparently it's a remake of a 2009 Argentinian film, which I never saw, but was reportedly far superior -- as foreign film originals tend to be. But as always, that comparison is neither relevant nor fair; all that counts is whether the movie works on its own merits. And it does, for what it is. And that is a mystery-thriller with a couple of twists at the end, which are surprising but still do little to make the movie particularly great.

It's not particularly bad, either. And it has a bit of a dream cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor as Ray, the man obsessed with finding the man who raped and killed the daughter of his counter-terrorism colleague, Jess (Julia Roberts), while also pining for his supervisor, Claire (Nicole Kidman).

The crime in question occurred 13 years ago, in 2002, in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, putting Los Angeles on high alert. I don't know if this was actually the case, but according to this movie, it was widely known that L.A. was target #2. This means their boss (played by Alfred Molina) is so obsessed with protecting their "snitch" providing information on suspected terrorists at a local mosque, he's willing to overlook the evidence that the same guy raped and killed Jess's daughter. "Nothing takes priority over counter-terrorism," he barks at one point. "Nothing!" In this particular context that seems like a bit of a stretch but whatever.

For much of the movie, director and co-writer Billy Ray (who, incidentally, wrote both the first Hunger Games and Captain Phillips) jumps back and forth between 2015 and 2012, and there are moments when it's difficult to keep track of what year we're in, the differences in wardrobe and graying hair are so subtle. But in 2015, you see, Ray has found where the suspect is, the guy they could never get a case against 13 years ago.

Secret in Their Eyes is more mystery than it is thriller; there are few thrills but there is a rather unexpected reveal near the end. A sequence involving a chase for the suspect at Dodger Stadium is maybe the most exciting sequence in the movie, and it's so comparatively incidental to the story that it seems like a bit of a waste.

It's the actors who save Secret in Their Eyes from getting tedious or boring. All three of the leads elevate the material with their talents, with Julia Roberts looking less like Julia Roberts in a role than she has in ages. Any fan of Roberts, Ejiofor or Kidman will likely be well enough engaged by this movie. But if you're looking for something exciting, you might do better to see one of those other movies all the kids are going to.

Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor nurture their own obsessions in SECRET IN THEIR EYES.

Overall: B-
1 comment or Leave a comment
fatpie42 From: fatpie42 Date: November 22nd, 2015 10:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've seen the original Argentinian movie. I thought it WAS tedious and boring. Your description of the remake sounds better.
1 comment or Leave a comment