Secret in Their Eyes (2015)

by | Nov 23, 2015 | 0 comments

A Surprisingly Satisfying Remake With a Great Cast

Remakes are really hard films to make. I don’t always stand in defense for the making of such films because it simply seems to be a complete lack of originality on the filmmakers’ part. However, there are good ways to go about remakes, and one of them is to not stick too much to the source material. By doing this you add some exclusivity to your story, while still retaining the charm and allure that made the original such a hit.

The Secret in Their Eyes is the American remake of the great Oscar-winning Argentine film El Secreto de Sus Ojos. The American remake tells the story of a newbie DA agent, Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) in 2002 who has moved to LA from New York after leaving the FBI and he has been put on the Counter Terrorist program. He has a good relationship with his partners Jess (Julia Roberts) and Bumpy (Dean Norris). At the office Ray is teased for not asking out the new Harvard graduate investigator Claire (Nicole Kidman). However, a murder near the mosque that Ray’s team has been surveying brings the team onto the scene. The victim of the atrocity is none other than Jess’ daughter Carolyn (Zoe Graham). The investigation into the crime is discarded by Reg (Michael Kelly), the agent on the case, and so Ray goes to the DA chief Martin Morales (Alfred Molina) for help, but he discards the crime too. So Ray decides to take the investigation into his own hands. However, things must not have worked out as we jump to 13 years later and find that Ray has lost his job and had moved back east. Something has brought him back to LA and it seems to be a lead on the case, he’s trying to get the investigation reopened.

I certainly liked how the film started as simply being loosely inspired by the Argentine original, it really intrigued me and made me see the film as a completely different story. Inevitably, the film does end up falling into to parallel with its source material, so that it takes away a lot of tension to those that have already seen the original. Even so, the adaptation is very well done and the switch of Argentina to the US is done very well in terms of cultural and linguistic aspects. And I also respected how the ending was changed up a bit, in order to leave a darker aftertaste that the film’s mood had set throughout.

What really stands out fresh in this film is the cast, not only because they are new faces compared to those of Ricardo Darin and Soledad Villamil, but because they really take their characters on a different journey. Chiwetel Ejiofor is spectacular, taking his character from his awkward encounters with Claire, to a rage field of confusion that he suffers from the case. He has already showed previously in 12 Years a Slave, and more recently in The Martian, that he has a very diverse set of acting skills; his limits on roles are yet to be found. As for Nicole Kidman, I appreciated that she returned to a more protagonist role in this film; I had missed her from the screens, and she had really only popped up as brief cameos or small roles (Paddington was her other outing this year in early January). Kidman compares and contrasts her Claire with the Irene from the original, in very subtle, but distinctive ways. As for Julia Roberts, she has a smaller role than expected, but when she’s in a scene she completely dominates it, making herself echo in her absences. The supporting turns of Dean Norris, Michael Kelly, and Alfred Molina were satisfying, but not distracting, which is really what a supporting cast should be.

In the end it’s hard to judge this film having watched the original. Of course the original seems better, but this film does a very good job in adapting such a complex mystery story, and deliver it in a carefully transformed way to American audiences. 

  • OVERALL MOVIE RATING 70% 70%

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What is your favorite remake? Let me know in the comments section.

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