Julia Roberts stars as a mother determined to track down her daughter’s killer and bring him to justice in the gritty ‘Secret In Their Eyes.’ Does the movie hit the top marks, or does it fall flat? Find out what the critics are saying!
Julia Roberts, 48, is back on the big screen, and that’s always a cause for celebration. The Oscar winner stars in Secret In Their Eyes, along with Nicole Kidman, 48, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, 38. Is this the most intense drama of 2015? The critics are weighing in!
Like the original, Secret in Their Eyes occupies the fraught territory between crime and punishment, political exigencies and justice. It can be both as gripping and as lacking in nuance as its predecessor, and though it often feels more like a highly polished TV procedural than a transporting cinematic experience, it’s a solid genre outing with unsettling topical resonance. The starry cast and provocative twists should give the movie theatrical staying power.
Neatly swapping in post-9/11 counterterrorism for late-’70s Argentinean political upheaval, writer-director Billy Ray’s thriller-procedural plays like a serviceable feat of narrative surgery, though it does boast one masterstroke in the reworking of a key role, played here by Julia Roberts with a piercing restraint that silences any lingering doubt that she was born to be more than just America’s sweetheart.
The timing of the film’s release, days after the Paris terrorist attacks, is unfortunate. The references to Sept. 11 are superficial, confusing and crassly exploitative. Worse, they feel old hat and technologically behind the times. To stir up excitement, the movie devotes a lot of footage to the pursuit of a suspect in a baseball stadium. But a similar sequence in the original movie was much more visceral… That chase comes as a relief after the yards of strained, flat-footed dialogue, which lacks the spontaneity of everyday speech. Sad to say: There is far more crackle in an average episode of “Law & Order.”
Roberts works hard to convey her miserable emptiness, but she can’t overcome the fact that Kidman appears to have forgotten to show up for work at all. The movie’s emotional core rests not only on Jess’s loss, but also on the unresolved feelings between Ray and the married Claire. There’s supposedly some powerful spark between them — but there’s nothing electric about Kidman, and it looks like Ejiofor is unleashing professions of passion on a cardboard cutout. As the movie wears on, the plot points become increasingly far-fetched, and what started out as a moody if by-the-book thriller becomes increasingly silly.
HollywoodLifers, what did you think of Secret In Their Eyes? Let us know!
— Avery Thompson