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Dan's Review: "Secret In Their Eyes" okay, unless you've seen it before

Nov 19, 2015 05:54PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Secret in Their Eyes - © 2015 STX Productions

Secret In Their Eyes (STX Entertainment)

Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving disturbing violent content, language and some sexual references.

Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Dean Norris, Michael Kelly, Lyndon Smith, Joe Cole, Zoe Graham, Donald Patrick, Mark Famiglietti, Ross Partridge.

Written by Billy Ray, based on El Secreto de Sus Ojos by Juan José Campanella & Eduardo Sacheri, based on the novel La Pregunta de Sus Ojos by Eduardo Sacheri.

Directed by Billy Ray.

GRADE: B

REVIEW:

Hollywood’s desolate landscape that used to produce fresh content has never been more apparent. Remakes, sequels, prequels and repetitive, formulaic Pablum are the norm these days. Another tried-and-true trick to fill production rosters is the practice of stealing really successful/acclaimed movies from foreign countries and remaking them “Americanized” (or English-speaking) style. Sometimes this works, i.e. La Cage Aux Folles/The Bird Cage, Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, etc. Sometimes it doesn’t. It’s also difficult to enjoy a movie if you’ve already seen the same story with English subtitles. Secret In Their Eyes is based on El Secreto de sus Ojos, the 2010 Oscar foreign language winner from Agrentina. Having seen (and loved) the original, I’m admittedly already biased toward the new version.

Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Ray, a retired FBI agent making a visit to his old office in Los Angeles. The purpose of his visit is to convince district attorney Claire (Nicole Kidman), an unrequited flame of his to reopen a case involving the rape and murder of a girl 13 years earlier. The victim also happened to be the daughter of his co-worker Jess (Julia Roberts), who remained understandably scarred from the trauma. The story is told through flashbacks to 2002. As Ray works to find the man he knows committed the crime, he runs into all kinds of legal and bureaucratic obstacles, leading up to present day.

No spoilers, but Ray eventually discovers there’s a terrible secret involving the murder suspect, requiring him to decide what real justice is.

Secret In Their Eyes is a reasonable crime drama and thriller with a twist ending – unless you’ve seen the original. The performances are more than adequate, especially from Julia Roberts, who successfully portrays a side of grief no one should ever have to endure. Kidman and Ejiofor are serviceable in their roles, but lack chemistry as they play lovers that never were.

While it’s impossible to avoid comparisons between the Argentine and Hollywood versions, the one glaring deficiency of the American copy is the lack of a controversial political backdrop that played such a prevalent role in the original. The switching and combination of roles also left the characters much less sympathetic than the Argentine film.

Even so, Secret In Their Eyes is a fine drama for the uninitiated, so if you haven’t seen the original, you might enjoy it.

 

Secret In Their Eyes Trailer

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