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09.04.2014
Due to the oddities of globally different release dates, The Secret In Their Eyes finds itself as both the recipient of the 2010 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and as one of the nominees for BAFTA's equivalent 2011 award. The setup seems set to play out as a lengthy murder mystery with overtones of traditional Hollywood thrillers but instead, at about the half hour mark, an obvious killer is suggested and the film seems to stagnate for a few beats, unsure of where to turn. The route it decides on is a route incredibly similar in many ways to David Fincher's Zodiac. Campanella's story is embellished with an incredible amount of detail which ensure the above concept doesn't run old or get tired quickly. Despite the film's minor problems the awarding bodies have got their lavishing of attention just right.
A team of FBI investigators is torn apart when they discover that one of their own teenage daughters has been brutally murdered. Back in 2009, a sombre, twisty Argentinian thriller called The Secret in Their Eyes pulled off a remarkable heist at the Oscars. Juan Jose Campanella’s film, a policier spanning a quarter-century about an unapprehended murderer, must have tapped into the same taste for procedural whodunnits that has made all those Scandi crime dramas such water-cooler TV. Now the Hollywood remake is upon us, and an estimable cast, headed by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts, do their darnedest to make it fly. The most powerful scene by far is the identification of this body, which Ejiofor’s Ray is the first to get a good look at. In this one sequence she succeeds in breaking the movie wide open – it’s a gruellingly effective showcase for what a good dramatic actress she is, and makes up (at least temporarily) for the clankingly dim preamble of the preceding reel. Thirteen years later, the presumed killer is still at large, because the cost of prosecuting him when they should have – which the powers that be prevented from happening – was potentially sacrificing leads in the war on terror. But the case against him is circumstantial at best, hinging on his general lasciviousness, his predatory expression staring at the victim in a single photo, and a fetish for comic-book violence. Kidman only has one scene that suggests why this wholly functional part appealed, when she taunts Cole’s character about his virility, trying to get a rise and a confession out of him. The film also wastes too much energy detailing an unrequited crush Ray has on Claire, when the relationship that really counts here, and gets short shrift as a result, is the one between him and Jess. Managing to be simultaneously underdeveloped and overwrought is a common flaw in pseudo-adult thrillers. Secret In Their Eyes is a film that I’ve personally been looking forward to since I saw the trailer not long ago and I was quite happy to go along and see it. Secret In Their Eyes tells the story of a bunch of high up investigators who are surveying a mosque which has in it possibly some suspected terrorists.


The directing from Billy Ray is well done and during the film while I was in the cinema watching this I had a feeling the whole way through that what I was seeing on screen was pretty good.
The only real downside and complaint I have with the film is with the writing and in particular the conclusion.
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Always Something To Read Or WatchWe hope you enjoyed your visit and time with Resident Entertainment. Juan Jose Campanella's film thus stands in the enviable position of having been premiered in its home territory in 2009 and then continuing to generate awards buzz and publicity for the two subsequent years. The snappy and darkly comic script, adapted by Campanella and Eduardo Sacheri from Sacheri's novel, gives way quickly to the brutal rape and murder of young schoolteacher Liliana Coloto (Carla Quevedo), a crime investigated by court official and protagonist Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin) and his new boss Irene Menendez Hastings (Soledad Villamil).
Like that film, this is indeed a film about a murderer who may or may not have been found and who may or may not have had justice served upon him but in the same way, it is a film more concerned with the lives the murder touches than with the crime itself.
Told using flashbacks, a now older Benjamin seeks out Irene again to go over the case, the two's unrequited love indelibly linked to Liliana's murder.
Firstly, although Campanella obviously has technical ability (a sweeping football stadium shot that starts miles away and ends up in the faces of the crowd in one smooth movement is a highlight) he fails to show it on regular occasions. The Secret In Their Eyes is better than both high profile entries from last year's Oscars (The White Ribbon and A Prophet) and based on the story alone, deserves another award this year from BAFTA.
It beat two far more critically acclaimed contenders – Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon and Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet – to the Best Foreign Film award. It’s been put together by one of Hollywood’s most prolific screenwriters, Billy Ray, who penned Captain Phillips, The Hunger Games, and the film version of State of Play, as well as his self-directed thrillers Shattered Glass and Breach, both of which were pretty interesting.
Ray hasn’t nailed the structure, dug deeply enough into the characterisations, or finessed the big twist nearly well enough - that’s why.
The camera tracks his gasping shock as he walks numbly across to Roberts’s character, Jess, and has to deliver the words that will ruin her life: it’s her daughter.
It dents the film’s credibility badly that experienced investigators such as Ray and Claire (Nicole Kidman) assume they can just wing the case on a strong hunch: they must know how the system works.
His fight to get justice for her daughter ought to be a moving essay on carrying your own share of a friend’s grief, but while Ejiofor is certainly pushing the role in that direction, the script has a more dubiously gimmicky resolution in mind. So is depending on a payload of cathartic emotion without doing the steady work of earning it.


Being a fan of both Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nicole Kidman I was interested to see how these two would perform together in the film and the trailer is quite intriguing, who doesn’t like a good murder mystery? Julia Roberts is okay but to me she was a bit annoying in this and the rest of the cast were just kind of average which is a bit disappointing but okay overall. I felt that things seemed wrapped up towards the end quite well, but then the final twist we got kind of ruined it for me and made me think that maybe the writer was trying to be too smart with it when they didn’t need to be.
Both Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor were great in this and had the most interesting characters to watch, but Julia Roberts was a bit annoying though in this film. This forms the main backbone of the surrounding stories but when you add to this the story of the victim's husband, the supposed murderer and Benjamin's alcoholic colleague, you get a tale incredibly rich in detail, all rounded off by a final quarter that will both catch many viewers off-guard and provide detailed closure in equal measure. The criticism that any given film 'looks televisual' has become too easy and too lazy a motif to trot out recently but that isn't to say it doesn't have merit and The Secret In Their Eyes can feel like a feature-length Midsomer Murders. Campanella's work may occasionally lack visual flourish but its integrity and dark wit can't be questioned.
Thunderstruck, Roberts fights her way right next to the corpse to get confirmation of her own.
Ejiofor's director doesn't coax the best out of him, either: unlike the excellent Ricardo Darin first time around, he’s mostly lunging in a vacuum. When one of the characters got punched unexpectedly at a certain point I saw a few people in the cinema I was in jump in their seats slightly which makes me think that people were quite immersed in the experience. The story is fairly good, although I disagree that the ending is solid, I would still recommend watching this to those who are interested in seeing it.
Perversely, the second problem is that when Campanella does attempt to visually stage his themes he goes for the overtly obvious. It would be a good value rental or a fairly good experience at the cinema, especially if you’re a fan of the genre or the actors this film has. A late scene sees three main characters shot with bars between them and the camera: they are literally imprisoned by the mystery that has obsessed them for years. Likewise, shots of Benjamin gazing at Irene from above, from the side and from behind pervade; they're never on equal footing and Campanella wants to make sure you see that.



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