Secret worth revealing
SECRET IN THEIR EYES (M)
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.