Review: ‘Secret in Their Eyes’

© Gran Via Productions

Erik Calderon, A&E Editor

‘Secret in Their Eyes’ is a film written and directed by Billy Ray. Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts, it’s about three officers of the law, frozen in time over the loss of Jess’ (Julia Roberts’) daughter.

Secret in Their Eyes is an intense mystery, thriller with a run time of 111 minutes and opens on Friday, Nov. 20. With a budget of $20 Million, the film was shot in three locations: Arcadia, Pasadena and Los Angeles, California on an Arri Alexa XT, digital camera. The film is Rated PG-13 for language, violent images and the use of bad language and sexual references.

The opening scene impresses you with questions — a wonderful way to start off a mystery. There are no establishing shots, we don’t know where we are. With extreme closeups, we are thrown into the driver’s seat searching for answers.

To make things even more exciting, we are bewildered with flashbacks. Going back and forth, we’re trying to solve a mystery and keep track of what time we are in. Confused like the victim, at war with more than we can possibly understand. Billy Ray does an excellent job graying the lines of good and bad and to what length these detectives will go to prevent evil. He also takes us on turns and surprises that we would never expect. The question I won’t answer here is: “Is this a happy ending film?”

Jess, Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Bumpy (Dean Norris), and Siefert (Michael Kelly) are detectives for a counter-terrorism group working to prevent 9/11 from happening in LA. While tracking a group of Muslims at a Mosque, they discover the body of a teenage girl, Carolyn (Zoe Graham), the daughter of Jess. This discovery and the release of the murderer freezes their lives for the next 13 years, until Marzin / Beckwith (Joe Cole) resurfaces. Bringing Ray, Jess and Clair (Nicole Kidman) back together again to finally solve the case and makes sure that Justice is served.

On a whole, the film is amazing. The vision of Billy Ray was very well put together, followed by powerful performances and detailed set designs. The visuals draw us in enough to take us on a thrilling ride, and you’ll be holding on to your seat.

Billy Ray develops the characters, and by the end of the film we are able to solve several mysteries, sub-texts and plots — even though he’s throwing us for a spin with his flashbacks, which, I’ve been told in film school, should not be used because they can be very confusing to the audience. Billy Ray uses this confusion to his advantage in keeping us interested in trying to solve the mystery. We see justice being served, and the best performance of good cop-bad cop I’ve ever seen.