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Study break: ‘Secrets in Their Eyes’ review

Photo+credit%3A+STX+Entertainment.
Photo credit: STX Entertainment.

Photo credit: STX Entertainment.

Photo credit: STX Entertainment.


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Photo credit: STX Entertainment.

The American remake of “secrets in Their Eyes,” a 2009 Academy Award-winning Spanish film, is about justice and the price that comes with it. Directed and co-written by Billy Ray, who also wrote “Captain Phillips” a few years back, the film features strong performances from its leading cast, but it’s not anything more than an OK replica.

The story is told in non-chronological order. Time jumps back and forth between 2002 and 2015 and revolves around three key characters; Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Jess (Julia Roberts) and Claire (Nicole Kidman). Ray is an FBI agent assigned to work on the counter-terrorism unit watching a local mosque that may or may not be a terrorist hot spot. This is complicated when he starts to have romantic feelings for Claire, a district attorney. Alongside him is his close friend, Jess, who never misses a moment to joke about this unrequited workplace crush. The story focuses on the details of their lives to make the audience feel a connection with them, and make what happens next all the more emotional.

Roberts turns in one of her best works and is deserving of an Oscar nomination as Jess. Her painful discovery of her daughter’s lifeless body is heartbreaking to watch. Here, she’s transformed into a grieving mother looking for revenge. When Ray tells her she’s aged a million years, it comes as no surprise. It’s all in the eyes and the way Jess moves as if she’s one of the walking dead. And who could blame her? Ejiofor does yet another good performance as Ray who dedicates his life to bring justice to his grieving friend. There’s guilt in his eyes and Ejiofor gives the character heart. The cliche romantic plot between him and Claire is sweet but also feels out of place.

Everyone’s got secrets in their eyes and the final reveal at the end doesn’t have the impact it should have had, but the painful discoveries that each character makes throughout the film are given justice by the acting.

Beyond that, the remake doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor. Ray stays true to some extent and builds the tension right to the very end. “Secret in Their Eyes” is hard to watch at some moments but it is definitely worth a viewing. Have the original copy close at hand just in case.

Erin Vierra can be reached at [email protected] or @hippycinephile on Twitter.

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