Rated: PG-13 for thematic material involving disturbing violent content, language and some sexual references. Reviewed by: Frank Release date: November 20, 2015 Released by: STX Entertainment
Secret in Their Eyes is basically a revenge film, but it plays hard on the effects of not taking action and taking too much action both in the murder and in life.
Chiwetel Ejiofor's Ray is the central character and the adhesive that holds the investigating team together along with the personal the trio which includes him, Claire (Nicole Kidman) and Jess (Julia Roberts). I have a friend who recently told me he met a friend from high school who asked him why he had never asked her out. He was impressed but did not believe she would be interested in him. That happens to Ray in this screen play, he is attracted to Nicole Kidman right from the beginning and that stretches over thirteen years. He is also emphatic for Jess who appears to be the focus of the film when her daughter is found dead in a dumpster.
The film moves from today back thirteen years when the murder was committed, at times the length of hair is the only clue as to what period we are viewing. Ray was scheduled to meet with Jess' daughter the night she died he didn't keep that appointment and he feels guilt for that evening. Returning to Los Angeles over a decade later he is determined to find the killer and bring peace to Jess.
It all appears to be about revenge for Jess, but Ray's hesitant relationship with Claire which finds her married and elected District Attorney but Jess is looking very old and worn out. Jess' look is assumed to be from her inability to get past the loss of her child.
The tension between each of the characters continues through the film and causes some uncomfortable moments between Claire and Ray as they argue over the case and if it should be reopened. The barrier to opening the case is disclosed when a task force working after 9/11 believed the potential suspect is the one who is bringing information about terrorists to the DA's office and must be protected for the larger good.
Ray's guilt about the murdered girl hangs between his relationship with Jess and he at one point offers to just kill the young man who is the suspect.
The tension never lets up and even at the climax which works but is not completely satisfying we are anxious to figure out what happen thirteen years before and why the three principal characters remain chained by those events.
Chiwetel Ejiofor is very effective and the obsessed agent, Julia Roberts plays her part very well as she ages under the pressure of the unsolved crime. Kidman is strong as a District Attorney but her final action is difficult to accept given her oath of office.
Secret in Their Eyes is a solid murder mystery which Sherlock Homes would have figured out before we do, but that would not have been as enjoyable.
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