Director: Billy Ray
Writers: Billy Ray
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts are the top shelf actresses of Hollywood. Almost any movie you put these two seasoned veterans in will instantly be a hit, because it is automatically assumed that Nicole and Julia will burn up the screen with their acting talent. I used to believe that, but it looks like Secret in Their Eyes proved me wrong.
Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Jess (Julia Roberts), and Claire (Nicole Kidman) are rising counter terrorism investigators at the top of their game in 2003. But when Jess’ daughter Carolynn is killed, the investigation disjoints their team. Distraught and depressed, Jess and Ray are bent on bringing this killer to a cold dark cell for the rest of his life.
The killer is none other than an informant for the government, Marzin (Joe Cole), whom Counter Terrorism will protect at any cost. Claire is put at the head of the investigation and she watches her friends destroy themselves in their pursuit of Marzin. Despite their efforts, the case is closed and the tragedy estranges the friends.
Thirteen years later, Ray reunites with Jess and Claire. This time Ray has news: he found Marzin and he wants to reopen the case. To do this, Ray has to open old wounds and follow new leads to get closure for Jess.
Violence/Scary Images: The film shows a corpse of a dead teenager in a dumpster. Ray punches some people severely, bruising and bloodying the victim’s faces. Two people get shot.
Language/Crude Humor: The Lord’s name is taken in vain. Sh**, d*** and d**k are used few times.
Spiritual Content: None.
Sexual Content: Claire says Marzin has too small of a penis.
Drug/Alcohol Reference: Alcohol is served at a bar.
Other Negative Content: Jess is bent on revenge that is worse than death.
Positive Content: The close knit friendship between Ray, Jess, and Claire shows that they would do anything for each other. They carry each other’s burdens.
Maybe I was a bit harsh in my intro, but don’t you agree that Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman are Oscar material? After all, this movie is a remake of an academy award-winning Argentinian film. What came from this movie was so odd and imbalanced that I can only guess the actors were stretching themselves to do something different or they wanted to do a favor for the director.
Each scene is slow and quiet, like a very normal day at the office. What I mean by quiet is that it felt as if the director turned down the volume on acting. The personality was numbed in the group. This equates to characters that really don’t want you to care about what they are caring about.
The script seemed forced into a weird hybrid genre of lovable sitcom buddies and serious crime investigators. The movie is also split between the present and flashbacks from thirteen years ago, decently revealing the whole story. Any scenes of drama and expressed emotion were only welcome exceptions to the movie. In all fairness, the movie was meant to feel like a normal day at anyone’s office, but the result is someone adding Novocaine to the characters.
Julia Roberts plays the mom who cannot function properly because of the pain of losing her daughter. She captures the times of sadness very well, and I like how the movie made her very homely and plain. Nicole Kidman played a very quiet and concerned chief of staff who lightly-kind-of-hints-a-bit at having a crush on Ray. But nothing happens and nothing results from the love interest between them.
The villain of the film, Marzin, seems like he would be a great psychopath, but instead comes off as a shy flavorless kid. The two sidekicks to the friends Bumpy (Dean Norris) and Reg (Michael Kelly) are your typical wise-cracking and jerkish office mates with nothing new to bring to the table.
Thankfully, the movie redeems itself in the end. I thought I had it all figured out, but the movie had a surprise and it fit very nicely. Bravo!
Secret in Their Eyes wants to suck you into the tragedy of hunting the killer of a woman’s daughter, but the tone isn’t right and drama seems lacking. Do yourself a favor and look at the trailer because it shows you all the drama you are going to get.
+ Good pacing with the flashbacks + Conclusion of the movie fit nicely
- Slooooooow progression - Dry acting - Botched romance storyline
The Bottom Line
Secret in Their Eyes wants to suck you into the tragedy of hunting the killer of a woman's daughter, but the tone isn't right and drama seems lacking. Do yourself a favor and look at the trailer because it shows you all the drama you are going to get.