Secret in Their Eyes
Directed by Billy Ray
Written by Billy Ray
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dean Norris, Nicole Kidman, and Julia Roberts
“Secret in Their Eyes” based on Eduardo Sacheri’s 2005 novel “La Pregunta de Sus Ojos” previously adapted as the Academy Award-winning Argentinian film “El Secreto de Sus Ojos” from 2009. “Secret” being a remake of the Argentinian film is irrelevant because most foreign language films receive limited distribution or no distribution at all. Which is why remakes such as “Secret” or “The Departed” exist.
“Secret in Their Eyes” is a taut thriller that features outstanding performances from its three leads, and an interesting story structure. The three leads Ejiofor, Kidman, and Roberts elevate an otherwise paint by numbers crime thriller. Ejiofor and Roberts were Oscar caliber and if the movie that surrounded their performances functioned on the level of their performances then I do believe that their names would be in the Oscar conversation. The that “Secret” does well is that it refrians from telegraphing what could have been an obvious twist. When the twist does come, it is done in a way that makes you think “Oh, that’s the way you went with this.” The it takes a turn that I found completely unexpected.
I did like that the story was told by switching from the present to flashbacks. The movie would not have worked by telling the narrative by starting with the events of the past, taking it up to a certain point, then flashing forward to the present. That would have made the twist in the film obvious. Although it does get a little confusing as to which time they are in because there are only thirteen between the past and the present. With so little time passed they use subtle indicators to represent the passage. Ejiofor has graying hair, and Kidman and Roberts have different hair styles. If you are not paying attention, it is easy to get lost with all the time jumping.
Unfortunately for “Secret” it is a rather paint by numbers crime thriller. “Secret” breaks no new ground in the genre, it felt very been there and done that. If not for the performances of the three leads “secret” would have been nothing more than a glorified TV movie. Aside from the standard plot the movie has a romatic subplot between Ejiofor and Kidman that does not work and feels out of place in the movie. Ejiofor and Kidman lack chemistry and every time the film tells that story it slows the movie down and feels like it does not need to be there.
“Secret in Their Eyes” is a fine thriller, although it does feel a lot like something that was made for TV. Luckily for the audience it has strong leads.