Grade: C+


Directed by Billy Ray

Starring Chiwetel Ejiofer, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman

Remaking films is nothing new. Remaking Oscar-winning films and it turning out Oscar-worthy is definitely nothing new. Except for a handful of esteemed titles, like True Grit or The Departed, remaking an already-commended work leaves little exceptions. With Billy Ray's visionary Secret in Their Eyes, a new version of the 2010 Oscar-winning foreign film El secreto de sus ojos, an exception is not made.

A team of close-working investigators and a rising DA are put to the max when one of their own experiences the ultimate of personal tragedies: murder of their child. Jess (Julia Roberts) is immediately overcome with anguish for the loss of her daughter and an emotional drive to find the person responsible. Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofer), her closest colleague, is also filled with passion for the cause, muddled mostly by his own personal guilt over how the circumstances of the murder came to be. Claire (Nicole Kidman), uses her rank to push, pull, and ultimately end the search for truth. As the three move in and out of each others' lives over the course of a decade, the truth behind the man responsible grows clearer and clearer. Just when it appears like searching is a lost cause, snippets of truth reveal there's more to be seen.

One of the more fascinating things about the original film is the pacing, revealing just enough to allow the twists and turns to really resonate. With this film, the new revelations regarding each piece of the puzzle are so handily presented that it's as if there isn't enough faith in the audience to figure the plot out. Director Ray still delivers a fine looking whodunnit, but any efforts to deliver something unique are completely awash in formality.

The most captivating elements of the film are the remarkable performances by the leads. Ejiofer delights as a leading man in a role that would just as easily gone to someone of the caliber of a Denzel Washington or even Tom Hanks. He definitely holds his own next to his two counterparts. Roberts channels portions of what made her August: Osage County performance as rewarding as it was. There's a certain rawness, and not just in the fact that she de-glamorizes. Kidman is the one with the most subtle and spectacular content on which to chew. The grace in which she holds herself makes each moment she's on screen shine.

There are definitely highs and lows throughout Secret in Their Eyes, where the highs are high, but the lows are extremely low. As the credits roll, it's easy to see there was a vision there, but portions must have been lost in translation. We're left with a film that feels more like a television procedural than a smart action-thriller. Secret in Their Eyes is good, not great.

Rating: R

Runtime: 111 minutes

© 2018 by Scottie Knollin.