Synopsis: A tight-knit team of rising investigators, along with their supervisor, is suddenly torn apart when they discover that one of their own teenage daughters has been brutally murdered. (Imdb)
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Secret in Their Eyes boasts a powerful all-star cast with Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, and Chiwitel Ejiofor, and they needed it to keep this slow paced story moving along with some intrigue, mainly due to the strong performances from the actors. Ray (Ejiofor) and Jess (Roberts) are homicide investigators and the closest of friends. Both of their lives turn upside down when Jess’ daughter is found murdered. After leaving town (LA) for over a decade, Ray reappears in hopes of opening up the case so that he can catch the murderer while also attempting to reconnect with former flame Claire (Kidman).
Director Billy Ray is no stranger to the mystery thriller genre. He wrote and directed Breach, Suspect Zero, and the acclaimed Captain Phillips. This is a very talented writer, but he muddles the story a bit too much in this film. The movie alters between the present and past events that lead up to the murder and it’s after effects. While it’s important to have the details explained, and the movie does a good job of that, the seamless cutting between the past and present scenes is confusing. It’s a fairly dark and gritty, with a film noir element to it.
The movie has three leading actors, but Ejiofor clearly takes the reigns as the top lead with Roberts and Kidman playing central supporting roles. Ray is the link between the women, and has two completely different relationships with each of them. He’s the best friend with Roberts character, while maintaining a romantic and professional relationship with Kidman’s character. The romantic connection with Kidman’s character is not a filler side story to the movie’s plot, it nicely connects with Ray’s purpose and needs. Kidman and Roberts do fine work in strong supporting roles. Roberts plays a dejected human being that loses her purpose and joy for life after her daughters death. Kidman is a sharp and sexy DA who runs the office while subtly giving into her feelings for Ray. It’s a nice contrast that adds flavor to a potentially one dimensional character portrayal.
Secret in Their Eyes is a dark movie, that’s not suitable for a younger audience. It doesn’t hold back on the profanity and it’s violence. It’s an intriguing murder mystery with very good acting performances. The reveal has a good but somewhat predictable twist of an ending to it. What ultimately holds the movie back from being mentioned along the likes of some really good gritty mystery thrillers such as Prisoners is the slow developing plot. The constant back and forth combined with the slow reveals makes the movie seem like it’s way too long for its own good, it’s 111 minutes, but feels like 211. Some editing and cutting out of the lackluster office scenes would have added some more excitement to the movie, which is what it lacks for the duration of it. This isn’t a bad movie, and it’s appealing enough if you can deal with slow burn. In today’s low attention span society, that can be hard to overcome.
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- Acting - 8/108/10
- Cinematography - 7.5/107.5/10
- Plot/Screenplay - 7/107/10
- Setting/Theme - 7/107/10
- Buyability - 5/105/10
- Recyclability - 6/106/10