'Secret In Their Eyes'
Director: Billy Ray
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman
Written and directed by Billy Ray, this film is basically a retread based on the Argentinean Oscar winning film by Juan José Campanella, and attempts to count on star power to compensate for a scripturally weakened and watered-down version of the real thing.
Watch the trailer of 'Secret In Their Eyes'
In the original 2010 film, investigators exhume long-buried truths through a time-shuffled sequence of murder, corruption and obsession. And it had a cultural context to strengthen its core dramatic psychology.
Billy Ray's version unfortunately twists the plotline a bit to suit the 9/11 counter-terrorism fallback used to replace the Argentinean political upheaval of the original. The original starts off with the 1974 event of rape –murder and moves 25 years later to resolve it in impressive dramatic fashion. This one moves to a slightly different beat.
A bunch of investigators working for counter-terrorism beat bump into a body in a dumpster. The dead girl happens to be the teenaged daughter of one of the investigators Jess (Julia Roberts). The brutal rape-murder takes place in 2002 Los Angeles and the body is found near a Mosque which is under constant surveillance. That the parent is an FBI investigator initially directly involved in the case makes matters too personal for her and her co-workers. FBI investigator Ray Kasten (Ejiofor) fulfills the obsession while Claire (Nicole Kidman) is the District Attorney invested with an unacknowledged attraction for Kasten and an urge to deal a knuckle-tight prosecution against the killer. The set-up is pretty damning.
There's enough room for high-end tension and investigative thrills. But the treatment is a little too workmanlike and overly dependent on star power to be propitiously fruitful. Roberts' deglam turn is riveting while Ejiofor and Kidman are sincere but the experience of it all is suspect. While the atmospheric density and gritty, shadowy camerawork (greys & browns mostly) by Danny Moder is appropriate, the plotting fails to add-up cutting edge suspense to the half-baked tension so it's all quite futile. Even the end-reveal doesn’t appear shocking. This film is at best serviceable. Nothing exciting or extraordinary about it!
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