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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Secret in Their Eyes | Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Zoe Graham, Chiwetel Ejiofor | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Judy Thorburn

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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE

 

The Secret In Their Eyes

The Secret In their Eyes is a remake of Juan José Campanella's Argentine film of the same name (but in Spanish) that won the Oscar in 2009 for Best Foreign Language Film.

This mystery crime drama, directed by Billy Ray from a script he cowrote with Eduoardo Sacheri, stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman, and centers on an investigator's obsession with finding the killer of a beautiful young woman.

Four months after the 9/11 terrorist attack on America, as the country is on high alert with counterterrorism being a top priority for the FBI, Carolyn (Zoe Graham) the daughter of federal investigator Jess Cobbs (Roberts) is found brutally murdered and left in a dumpster outside a Mosque.  When the prime suspect, Marzin (Joe Cole) turns out to be a snitch for the FBI working out of the Mosque that has been under surveillance, he is deemed untouchable. Marzin, subsequently disappears, and the case is basically considered closed.

Fast forward to present day, after years of obsessively searching through files and photos, Jess' former partner Ray Kasten (Ejiofor) now head of security for the New York Mets, finally discovers a photo taken at a company picnic thirteen years earlier, that shows Marzin suspiciously eyeing her daughter. Determined to seek justice for her murder, Ray returns to Los Angeles to locate her killer, which means reconnecting with Jess and Claire (Kidman) a blonde beauty, with whom he shared a mutual attraction but neither never acted on.  Back in 2002, when he and Claire first met, she was an ambitious attorney, and has since moved up the ranks to become D.A., the person he needs to convince to reopen the case.

Ejiofor does a good job as Jess's former parter and close friend, who has set his sights on going after the man that evidence shows is guilty of the heinous crime, but was never prosecuted. Kidman is adequate in her role, but she and Ejiofor suffer from unconvincing, zero chemistry.

What stands out is Julia Roberts, delivering a phenomenal performance as a top notch investigator, turned deeply distraught, broken woman after losing her beloved daughter that meant everything to her. Roberts sheds the glamorous, pretty woman image to reveal a drab looking woman who is so filled with grief that she no longer cares about her outward appearance.  One of the most powerful scenes is when, after discovering her daughter's lifeless body, she cries out in disbelief and emotional agony. It is raw, heart wrenching and will resonant with the audiences long after the movie ends.

Passion, obsession, mistaken identify, and vengeance all come into play in what should have been a gripping thriller, but fails to be.  For one thing, the film is marred by an uneven narrative that clumsily jumps back and forth between 2002 and thirteen years later to the present, in such a way as to be confusing.  I found myself questioning what was going on, when. Secondly, there is a lack of real suspense and intensity leading up to what is supposed to be a shocking “twist” towards the end.

With all the trapping of a worthwhile thriller,  I can't help but wonder if all that was lost in translation.

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