Home >mint-lounge >features >Film review: Secret In Their Eyes

This Hollywood remake of an Argentinian Oscar-winning film comes loaded with expectations. Secret In Their Eyes is the English adaptation of the 2009 film El Secreto De Sus Ojos, which was based on a 2005 novel by Eduardo Sacheri. El Secreto De Sus Ojos won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Director Billy Ray’s Americanized version has many script changes, primarily that the events central to the plot affect Jess, a FBI agent played by Julia Roberts.

When the raped and murdered body of a young girl found in a dumpster turns out to be that of Jess’ daughter, life changes forever for her partner Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and the hot-shot new lawyer, Claire (Nicole Kidman). The screenplay jumps between 2002 and 13 years later, when Ray returns to Los Angeles believing he has found a new lead. For 13 years, the trio and their colleagues have lived with the fact that they were unable to bring the perpetrator to book. So when Ray reappears with a hunch, this loyal team, which has seen Jess suffer for over a decade, surreptitiously reopens the investigation.

A genre suspense thriller, Secret In Their Eyes is doused in unhappiness and the fallout of the lack of closure. The 2002 investigation is juxtaposed with present-day inquiries and the chirpy banter of the agents is contrasted with their older, less confident selves. Each person finds himself a little responsible, a little regretful, and often required to reset his or her ethical boundaries. One feels this mostly due to Roberts’ performance, as she carries the weight of grief and battles between vengeance and legal punishment. She alone evokes compassion and humanity. Ejiofor and Kidman’s romance sits uncomfortably in the story. Whereas Kidman brings a respectable nuance to her uninteresting part as the public prosecutor torn between duty and loyalty, Ejiofor is the fulcrum, providing the narrative with an energy that is otherwise scant.☺

Sluggish pace and some contrived plot points dilute the unsettling moments, like when Jess enters an elevator to see the man accused of murdering her daughter walking free. Secret In Their Eyes does not meet expectations, and, unlike the characters that are unable to forget, the film is disappointingly forgettable.

Secret In Their Eyes released in theatres on Friday.

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