Friday, November 20, 2015


Secret in Their Eyes

Secret in Their Eyes official site What might be the motivation behind remaking an Argentine crime thriller "The Secret in Their Eyes" (El secreto de sus ojos | 2009) that won a Best Foreign Film Oscar? It makes you scratch your head even more after you finish watching director Billy Ray's unconvincing adaption "Secret in Their Eyes" (USA 2015 | 111 min.). If his purpose of remaking the original film is to show how a bunch of talented actors can get together to play dumb characters and look unattractive, that goal is attained handsomely. If he is trying to retell a mysterious crime tale that's no longer a secret, he surely knows how to ruin a party with this film.

The movie opens with the camera tiresomely roaming around the shoulder of ex-FBI agent Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor). He is combing through mugshots of criminals on his computer screen while hearing the screaming of a tortured girl in his head. The person he is looking for is the killer of Carolyn (Zoe Graham), the daughter of his close friend Jess (Julia Roberts) who is a veteran cop in the LAPD. The noisy sound effect gives us a cue that Ray is lucky today. Indeed, he finds a match from the sea of mugshots and he takes his finding to the district attorney Claire (Nicole Kidman).

The man Ray is looking for is Marzin (Joe Cole) who is believed to be Carolyn's killer. However, unable to get a conviction, Marzin walked away free thirteen years ago. Ray has been haunted by the case and has never stopped searching for him. Never mind that Marzin was released back then, Ray tries to persuade Claire to reopen the case and to zoom in on the guy he finds. In the meantime, teamed with another cop Bumpy (Dean Norris), Ray begins his manhunt despite the fact that he is no longer in the law enforcement.

Secret in Their Eyes Official Site

If the narrative sounds like a stretch, it is. There are countless moments which are so ridiculously coincidental that makes the film looks like a nightmarish fairy tale. The writer-director Billy Ray is surely in charge here and if he wants something to happen, it happens. These characters don't miss a single chance to cross each other's paths and are always able to find what they are looking for: they can walk into the same elevator and come to the same office at the perfectly timed moment; Ray can spot his target in a giant ballpark just in a few minutes; out of many cops from the LAPD, Jess has to be the one coming to the crime scene and finding out that the victim is her own daughter; the only thing Ray and Bumpy steal from a stripper's house is a comic book that happens to be the road map of a horrendous crime.

Chiwetel Ejiofor carries his painful expression from one scene to another, which makes you wonder if the director wants him to play the role in "12 Years a Slave" all over again. But that sad face looks pale compared to Julia Roberts who plays the grief-stricken Jess. She effectively shakes off all her glamor and beauty and looks like a zombie, which maybe the only interesting aspect about the film. And Nicole Kidman plays an absurd DA Claire, who dresses like a Barbie doll and seems to enjoy being treated as a sexual object by her male colleagues. It becomes even more preposterous when she uses her sex appeal to provoke the suspect.

There may have been secret in these characters' eyes, but either you already know them from the original Argentine film, or you might never know because you can't stand another dumb word coming out from these characters and walk out of the theater before the film ends.

"Secret in Their Eyes," an STX Entertainment release, opens on Friday, November 20, 2015 in San Francisco Bay Area.

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