WRITER/director Billy Ray’s Americanisation of Argentine filmmaker Juan Jose Campanella’s 2009 film “El Secreto de sus Ojos” is an easily (for the benefit of English-speakers) assimilable example of that cinematic rara avis, an intelligent thriller.
The main cast of “Secret in their Eyes” has impressive professional chops. Oscar-winner Chiwetel Ejiofor plays former FBI agent Ray, who has spent much of the last 13 years scanning mug-shots to locate the killer of the daughter of Ray’s colleague Jess (Oscar winner Julia Roberts).
Oscar winner Nicole Kidman plays lawyer Claire, once part of the original, unsuccessful team investigating the murder. Playing Bumpy, an FBI agent lower in the hierarchy, is Dean Norris, who’s never even been nominated for an Oscar!
The screenplay segues comfortably between this year and 13 years ago. The interaction between divorced Ray and married-but-not-working-hard-at-it Claire forms an achingly powerful erotic undercurrent energised by the undeniable physical beauty of the two actors. Julia Roberts brings distraught energy and haggard features to an investigator unable to solve a particularly horrific crime against her beloved daughter.
The film’s climax is an absolute screamer, in the sense not of those clichéd shots of actors’ tonsils such as directors call for to deliver an impression of fear, terror or disgust but rather of a powerful denouement totally unsignalled yet credible. As it develops, working out where it is going offers filmgoers an agreeable challenge.
At Palace Electric, Capitol 6, Dendy, Hoyts Belconnen, Limelight