***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS***
Secret in Their Eyes tells the story of FBI agent Jess Cobb (Julia Roberts), who discovers, along with her partner Ray Kasten (Chiwitel Ejiofor) that the girl found murdered in a dumpster is none other than Jess’ own daughter. Ray begins to investigate this crime further, believing that he is to blame for Jess’ misery.
You might be asking yourself, “wasn’t this already an Argentine film released back in 2009?” If you’re asking yourself this question, then yes, you are correct. Once again, we are presented with another remake of another great film. And once again, Hollywood butchers it. This was an A-list film that went absolutely nowhere. My problem with Secret in Their Eyes, is the writing and directing. Since they came from the same source, writer-director Billy Ray, the film really didn’t have much going for it.
As I watched Secret in Their Eyes, I was hoping that it would lead to a big reveal or a big twist ending. The drama of the story doesn’t even build at all. It’s like Ray sat in a quiet room with his thoughts and said, “I want this film set in 2002, thus a perfect setting for tying the girl’s death to a terrorist organization.” But then, he didn’t take out that plot, rather he just didn’t follow through with it. Instead he thought of another plot. “I’m going to make this FBI agent, who acts like a jerk, make him a big shot, someone who has been promoted three times, and then I’ll make him somehow involved with this conspiracy by setting the van, which has tons of evidence, on fire.” But he didn’t follow through with that one, either, as we see later in the film. There were just too many directions that this film went into. Not to mention the constant time leaps, back and forth. It begins to grate on you after a while. You see Ejiofor with his hair all black, then the next scene, we see him with gray hair. And during Roberts’ time leaps, she appears with less and less makeup. Looking as though she had just been under a blow-drier. The realism of the film becomes lost in translation after all the time jumps.
But as bad as writings go, I have seen movies where the script wasn’t great, but the actors’ performances were top notch. This was not the case in Secret in Their Eyes. You have an A-list cast, and you can’t wrangle them in when need be? Roberts, who plays the distressed mother, becomes too much to watch. At times, her performance was not intriguing, but rather overdramatic and cliché. Nicole Kidman, who plays District Attorney, Claire Sloan, is too often, soft spoken. She doesn’t add anything to the film. In fact, her character becomes a nuisance. I expected more from these talented actors.
Secret in Their Eyes could have been a good/decent film. However, I blame a lot of its faults on director Ray. It was his movie, but he failed to have control. This film, which should have been showed on a channel such as Lifetime, wants to achieve so much, but ends up achieving very little.
Secret in Their Eyes
Written and Directed by: Billy Ray
Starring: Julia Roberts, Chiwitel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman