Secret in Their Eyes

 

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A starry remake of the Oscar-winning Argentine film (of the same name) gives us plenty to 

think about.

 

After his sterling turns in Dirty Pretty Things, Kinky Boots and 12 Years a Slave, it’s good to see Chiwetel Ejiofor holding his own in a mainstream Hollywood movie that’s got nothing to do with the colour of his skin. And he gets to top-bill Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts, to boot. He certainly brings a grounded integrity to the role of FBI investigator Ray Kasten, who returns to his old office in Los Angeles after an absence of thirteen years. Back in 2002 he was caught in the fall-out of a horrific murder case that destabilised the entire department. Now he thinks he has some answers – but is he poking into a can of worms that really doesn’t need to be opened?

An adaptation of the Oscar-winning Argentine thriller The Secret in Their Eyes, Billy Ray’s police procedural is nothing if not a competent exploration of the intricate braids plaiting justice and human grief. Justice does, of course, need to be served – but at what cost? It’s not a straightforward narrative, as the shifts between 2002 and today are not always clear, although Chiwetel’s hair has greyed a little in the interim and Julia Roberts’ once luxurious tresses cut right back. More problematic is Nicole Kidman, who as DA employee Claire Sloan has hardly changed over the years. No comment, there.

 

But this is Julia Roberts’ movie – photographed by her husband Danny Moder – in which the camera pushes unforgivingly into the grief-riven contours of her face. One can forget what a terrific actress she is and she gives a chilling reading of her character’s anguish, jettisoning any remnants of vanity.

 

Secret in Their Ey

Julia Roberts and Chiwetel Ejiofor

 

Billy Ray, who previously directed the little-seen Shattered Glass (2003) and Breach (2007), is savvy to rely so heavily on his actors, for it is they who bring the story alive. The film is not without its moments of dullness, but should one prove willing to go along with its sexual, romantic, political and moral tissue of agendas, it’s a rewarding watch.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Dean Norris, Alfred Molina, Michael Kelly, Joe Cole, Zoe Graham.

 

Dir Billy Ray, Pro Matt Jackson and Mark Johnson, Screenplay Billy Ray, Ph Danny Moder, Pro Des Nelson Coates, Ed Jim Page, Music Emilio Kauderer, Costumes Shay Cunliffe.

 

Gran Via Productions/IM Global/Route One/Site Productions/Union Investment Partners/Willies Movies AIE-Universal Pictures. 

111 mins. USA. 2015. Rel: 26 February 2015. Cert. 15..