Research has shown that we can recognise emotions in others simply by looking at expressions produced by the eyes. In the case of the characters in this film, all-consuming horror and fear are the winners.
Akin to a Hitchcockian psychological thriller, The Secret in Their Eyes depicts the haunting story of a relentless detective chasing after the murderer of a fellow colleague’s daughter.
Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Ray, a former District Attorney Investigator for a counter-terrorist group following the 9/11 attacks. His partner-in-crime, Jess (Julia Roberts), begins as a cheeky detective, eventually becoming a ghost of her former self after the death of her daughter. Meanwhile, Claire (Nicole Kidman) is Ray’s unrequited love interest-turned District Attorney, who tries to keep him under control as Ray resurfaces the case thirteen years later.
The film has a unique rhythm and interesting pace. Piece by piece, leads come together, but only in the very end do all the dots connect. Similar to Hitchcock’s films, writer and director Billy Ray promotes suspense, asking the audience to play detective until the very end. You never know what is lurking behind hidden corners in this thriller; blood is shed, bleach is poured, and it’s a thrill to watch. Editor Jim Page and Billy Ray have so delicately woven this story together that it falls nothing short of an art form.
Julia Roberts deserves every bit of praise for her stunning performance. While her last few films have been a mix of hard-hitting dramas (August: Osage County, The Normal Heart) and lighter pieces (Mirror, Mirror, Larry Crowne), Roberts strikes harder this time, reminding us why she’s the best. Despite the harrowing subject matter, it’s an absolute joy to see her go deep into the role of a woman haunted by loss and living a life sentence of pain.
Ejiofor’s Ray on the other hand is a man with a plan, fully determined to achieve justice for Jess, though perhaps a little misguided. Ejiofor delivers a wonderful, indomitable performance, propelling the story forward to a twisted conclusion. Though different in many ways, these characters are all tough – they need to be in order to deal with a villain like Marzin (Joe Cole). Although he appears less often in the film than the main trio, Marzin is a twisted and taunting narcissistic psychopath who becomes a shadow. The chase to hunt this man down is gripping, and will undoubtedly keep audiences on the edge of their seats until the end credits.
Secret in Their Eyes will be released in New Zealand and Australia on November 19, 2015, November 20, 2015 in the US and in the UK on March 4, 2016.
Image source: Roadshow Films.