This is going to be what I like to think of as a cautionary review, as in ‘caution, do not see this movie’. As such, I’m not going to waste words analysing every aspect of “Secret in Their Eyes”, nor am I going to try and comprehensively explain its many faults – just believe me when I say that, to put it bluntly, this movie is a piece of shit.
The fact that the name is “Secret in Their Eyes”, rather than “The Secret in Their Eyes”, is the first warning sign that this movie might not be worth your time. However, there is a pretty simple explanation for this grammatical error – this film is an English-speaking version of an Argentinian movie entitled “The Secret in Their Eyes”, so presumably the crucial first word was omitted to differentiate the two.
That’s all well and good, but the filmmakers must’ve realised after filming had finished that the real differentiating factor between the two would be the quality of the end product, rather than the respective titles. “The Secret in Their Eyes” was an Oscar winner back in 2009, having taken the award for Best Foreign Language Film; whereas “Secret in Their Eyes” is more likely to win a Razzie.
As you would expect from the remake of an Oscar winning film, the story isn’t actually all that bad. On paper, the plot of “Secret in Their Eyes” might read a little bit like a TV movie synopsis – a jaded investigator comes home to solve the case that has haunted him for thirteen years – but in reality there is a lot going on. However, the biggest problem with the film is that it doesn’t know how to tell its story in an original or even coherent way.
Leading man Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Ray, a former FBI counter-terrorism investigator looking to catch the one that got away. To do so, he enlists the help of an old flame, Claire (played by Nicole Kidman), who has moved up the ranks in the thirteen years since the murder took place. The film flirts with the idea that the two are still in love, yet they never even kiss on screen, and the admittedly capable actors have absolutely no chemistry.
Additionally, the victim in the case that Ray is looking to close was the daughter of his co-worker and best friend, Jess (played by Julia Roberts), which makes the whole thing personal.
You might think, then, that these celebrated actors had every opportunity to show their range and deliver memorable performances; but sadly, you’d be very wrong. Every single performance in “Secret in Their Eyes” is excruciatingly bad. Julia Roberts does try her best to inject the film with some passion, and she is believable as a mother struggling to cope following the loss of her daughter, but she is also guilty of some crazy overacting.
The issues that I’ve mentioned, and several that I have neither the time nor the patience to explore, all originate from poor writing, cinematography, and direction. The dialogue is uninteresting, the lighting and framing lack in creativity, and everything is permeated by a feeling of carelessness. It’s just terrible filmmaking, pure and simple.
All in all, “Secret in Their Eyes” isn’t worth watching, either at the cinema, at home, or even on a plane. It’s just trash; boring, lacklustre, trash.