Movie review of “Secret in Their Eyes”: The Hollywood remake of an award-winning Argentine thriller is showy — and stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman — but also faded and uninspired. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.
The 2010 Argentine film “El Secreto de Sus Ojos” (“The Secret in Their Eyes”), winner of that year’s Academy Award for best foreign-language film, was an intriguing, tantalizing puzzle-box of a thriller, playing with questions of love, revenge and what happens when memory fades. The new Hollywood film “Secret in Their Eyes” is, on the other hand, a standard movie-star thriller, neither particularly good nor cheerfully terrible; it’s like a pale, limp memory of the original film, its colors faded, its distinction wrung out in the wash.
Written (from the original screenplay by Eduardo Sacheri and Juan José Campanella, based on Sacheri’s novel) and directed by Billy Ray, the new “Secret” at least features the pleasures of a powerhouse movie-star trio. Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave’) plays Ray, an FBI investigator on mosque-watch patrol with fellow investigator Jess (Julia Roberts) in the months after 9/11, nurturing a quiet crush on the new deputy district attorney, Claire (Nicole Kidman). When Jess’ daughter is found brutally murdered, Ray becomes obsessed with the crime — and, 13 years later, the trio reunites to perhaps, finally, solve the mystery.
Like the original, “Secret” flits back and forth in time, relying on gimmicks like gray flecks in Ray’s hair (invisible, alas, in dimmer light) to tell us where we are. And, like its predecessor, it features some showy camerawork, particularly a chase sequence at a crowded baseball game. But though the actors toil valiantly — Ejiofor and Kidman, in particular, occasionally catch an intriguing spark — the whole thing seems just a little rote. Even if you haven’t seen the original, you may leave this film feeling like you’ve seen it before.
Movie Review ★★
‘Secret in Their Eyes,’ with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Alfred Molina. Written and directed by Billy Ray, based on the 2010 Argentine film “El Secreto de Sus Ojos.” 129 minutes. Rated PG-13 for thematic material including disturbing violent content, language and some sexual references. Several theaters.