Weekend movie review: Secret in Their Eyes

The movie SECRET IN THEIR EYES is about a lot of things. It's about a team of investigators working diligently to nab terrorists following the September 11 tragedy. A team that ends up involved in and forever changed by investigating the heinous rape and murder of the daughter of one of their own.

Secret in Their Eyes DVD

It's also about unrequited romance. And choices. And loss and regrets and revenge and the lengths to which friends — and a devastated mother — will go for the ones they love.

The film, a remake of an award-winning Argentinian movie, begins set in 2015. Former detective Ray Kasten (Chiwetel Ejiofor) has discovered — no spoiler here! — the whereabouts of the young man who murdered the daughter of his close friend and former teammate, Jessica Cobb (Julia Roberts). A man who evaded prosecution for his crime in 2002. Ray returns to his former department to share the news with Jessica and Claire Sloan (Nicole Kidman), a current DA who was the supervisor of the team investigating the murder in 2002 as well as the woman Ray longed for then and now but could never have.

From there, the film  goes back and forth between 2002 when Jess's daughter was murdered and the murderer never punished for to-be-revealed twists to the story and 2015 as the team — some still seeking revenge — has another chance to do what they couldn't years before.


Far from a typical tale of murder and its investigation and prosecution, SECRET IN THEIR EYES is unpredictable (for the most part) as each person connected to the crime keeps secrets of his or her own, does things he or she may have not thought themselves capable of. There's no black or white, no real good guys or bad guys — other than the beyond bad killer, of course.

There's definitely no bad acting here, by any of the characters. Ejiofor's performance was standout, for me. He's smart, caring, heartbroken, persistent, tough, determined. And his actions and facial expressions change from one to the next in an instant. He seems to genuinely feel each emotion. And seems to genuinely be the very best friend — or potential boyfriend — a woman could ever hope to have.

Julia Roberts plays the traumatized mother painfully realistically, or so I imagine, having never (thankfully!) experienced or met a woman in such circumstances. No concerns about makeup or wardrobe here for the superstar. Her mournful wailing in the scene in which she finds her daughter pierced my heart.

The killer, creepily and convincingly played by Joe Cole, was fabulous at being a horrible human being.

SECRET IN THEIR EYES was not as difficult to watch as I initially expected, in part because little time is devoted to details and scenes of the murder. The suspenseful film focuses more so on the twists that keep a killer free, the unfairness of it all, the compromises made, the conflicts between — and within — the characters. And the secrets each keeps, in one way or another.

Brief comments on making the film by the three leads :

SECRET IN THEIR EYES (rated PG-13 "for thematic material involving disturbing violent content, language and some sexual references") was released theatrically last year and is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, and some streaming services.