Plot: What’s it about?
A remake of the highly regarded 2009 foreign film, Secret in Their Eyes assembles a first rate cast and a nicely told mystery. The film stars Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts and Chiwetel Ejiofor as characters who all have history together, and are reunited when Ray (Ejiofor) insist the case be reinvestigated. Kidman plays Claire Sloan. She’s an assistant DA who has the kind of pull that Ray needs to try and solve a murder case. The story jumps back and forth in time to present and thirteen years prior when Jessica Cobb’s (Roberts) daughter has been found murdered. The two timelines run together throughout the entire movie, and can be a bit confusing at times. The earlier part focuses more on the initial murder case while the present day focuses on trying to catch the murderer.
The film was a bit overlooked when in arrived in theaters this past November. Critics were quick to call inferior to the original. While the original is a great film, I still think this version stands on its own. After all, some people don’t care for subtitles, and I look at this as simply an American update on a foreign film more than a remake. While certain elements have been tinkered with, the film follows the plot of the original pretty closely. It’s such a great, intriguing story that little needed to be changed. I might have a different take on matters since this was the version I saw first, but I cared enough about the characters and the outcome that it made the journey worth taking.
As mentioned earlier, a point is made that these characters have a strong history together. Ray always had a thing for Claire, but that’s complicated when she’s engaged. Jess and Ray also were partners before tragedy struck, and that makes the investigation personal for Ray as well. By the time the big reveal comes, I can say the film had me. Again, those that have seen the original film will have an idea of where things are headed, but it caught me off guard. The film isn’t perfect. There are times when the story could’ve been tightened a bit, but overall it flows very nicely and gives attention to character development. There are some chase scenes, but the film is more of an intimate story than an action flick. It resonates after it had ended and therefore comes recommended.
Video: How’s it look?
To say that this movie is dark and, well, bland is something of an understatement. Universal brings this upbeat comedy, whoops…wrong movie, to Blu-ray sporting a very wide and luscious 2.40:1 AVC HD image. It’s dark man – dark. If you’re looking to see Julia Roberts in all of her curly-haired glory, look somewhere else. I’m pleased to say that Nicole Kidman looks as dashing as ever and the detail showcases her porcelain skin like none other. The overall tone of the film is, as you’ve guessed by now, very dark. Contrast is steady and solid and black levels don’t seem to be an issue with movement or blocking. Not like we’d expect that from a new to Blu-ray film. Some of the sweeping visuals of the city showcase some nice sights, but on the whole this isn’t a bright and cheery affair. It’s nice-looking for sure, but nothing too terribly memorable.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS HD Master Audio sound mix does its job and does it well. Though I can’t recall too many instances in which the sound really managed to impress me, I will say that it’s just a nice solid track. Vocals are pure, with Chiwetel Ejiofor’s deep voice leading the way. Surrounds are present and have a few moments of glory, but by and large the front stage does the job here. The subtle, nuanced score creates some varied moods but the front stage, coupled with the center channel are what drives this one.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Adapting the Story for Today’s World – I’d like to have seen a more lengthy version of this, but all we really get is a 2 minute montage of clips with some explanation by Billy Ray who discusses of remaking the Academy Award-winning film.
- Julia Roberts Discusses Her Most Challenging Role – This isn’t necessarily Roberts discussing her role, namely a particular scene (and I won’t ruin the surprise for anyone) with references to how the scene was shot, how Roberts (and her character) would react and so forth. It’s interesting, but yet another pretty short feature running about three and a half minutes.
- Audio Commentary – Director/Screenwriter Billy Ray and Producer Mark Johnson sit down to discuss the film, the remake and some of the casting decisions. It’s actually far more interesting than I’d imagined and fans of the film will be glad that this track is on the disc.
The Bottom Line
While it doesn’t necessarily improve on the original film, Secret in Their Eyes is still a journey worth taking. It has an intriguing premise and a strong cast that make it worthwhile.