Se­cret worth re­veal­ing

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -


Di­rec­tor: Billy Ray (Shat­tered Glass) Star­ring: Chi­we­tel Ejio­for, Ni­cole Kid­man, Ju­lia Roberts, Dean Nor­ris, Michael Kelly, Al­fred Molina, Joe Cole

THIS in­ter­mit­tently en­gross­ing drama comes with one im­por­tant con­di­tion at­tached.

If you had the good for­tune to see the 2010 Best For­eign Lan­guage Os­car-win­ning Ar­gen­tine fea­ture from which Se­cret in Their Eyes was adapted, you should steer clear here.

More a remix than a re­make, the Hol­ly­wood version ul­ti­mately can­not cast the same cap­ti­vat­ing, soul­claw­ing spell.

How­ever, it does go tan­ta­lis­ingly close in its best stretches, which will prove to be sat­is­fy­ing enough for those un­fa­mil­iar with the dark mystery pro­pel­ling the story.

The nar­ra­tive of Se­cret in Their Eyes un­folds across two dis­tinct time-frames, so some se­ri­ous con­cen­tra­tion is de­manded from the viewer to keep track of what is hap­pen­ing.

In 2002, counter-ter­ror­ism agent Ray (Chi­we­tel Ejio­for) has dis­cov­ered the dead body of a col­league’s daugh­ter near a mosque his unit has un­der sur­veil­lance. The im­pact of the en­su­ing case – which re­mains open in spite of the rapid iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the killer – sub­se­quently tears apart the lives of ev­ery­body who worked on it.

Mean­while, in the present day, Ray has re­turned to the scene of the long-ago crime, bear­ing what he be­lieves to be a con­clu­sive lead that will fi­nally drag that elu­sive perp to jus­tice.

How­ever, a ma­jor­ity of Ray’s ex­work­mates no longer share the same pas­sion to re­solve the tragedy that hit so close to home.

What is de­cid­edly strange about this sit­u­a­tion is that even Ray’s great long-lost love (Ni­cole Kid­man) and the mother of the vic­tim her­self (Ju­lia Roberts) are less than equiv­o­cal with their sup­port.

Not all of the film’s many tran­si­tions be­tween past and present work in its favour. At times, Ejio­for is fight­ing a los­ing bat­tle to keep us con­nected to the soli­tary jour­ney of his char­ac­ter.

How­ever, Kid­man and Roberts are both ex­cel­lent through­out, ap­ply­ing ju­di­cious mea­sures of re­straint and com­po­sure to their per­for­mances that we haven’t seen from ei­ther in quite some time.

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