Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Secret in Their Eyes' Not So Thrilling

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Secret in Their Eyes' Not So Thrilling

Article excerpt

Filmmakers dream of a timely release date, the movie coinciding with current events or at least elements thereof. "Secret in Their Eyes" - the Hollywood remake of an Oscar-winning foreign thriller - features a counterterrorism squad, emigre militants at a radical mosque, a big sports-stadium scene, glossy production values and a trinity of A-list stars who should be able to pull it off.

They try. But they're weighed down by backstory baggage.

It's 2002 in post-9/11 Los Angeles, where ace detective Jess Cobb (Julia Roberts), FBI investigator Ray Kasten (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and Deputy D.A. Claire Sloan (Nicole Kidman) have been chosen for an elite antiterrorism joint task force. Jess and Ray are close pals, on and off the job. Ray has a shy crush on Claire.

Minutes into the tale, a horrific crime shatters the team: Jess' teenage daughter is murdered. The main suspect is an undercover informant at the mosque - a protected federal witness who must be released.

Cut to 13 years later (and back and forth thereafter). Forlorn Jess has been a Dead Woman Walking. Ray, obsessed with the case, discovers a new lead and returns to L.A. to convince Claire - now the D.A. - to reopen it. He is still carrying a torch for Claire; she's holding maybe a Bic lighter for him.

Who's holding a secret about the killer?

"Secrets" was written and directed by Billy Ray, who was Oscar- nominated for his "Captain Phillips" script (2013). His sole previous directing effort was "Shattered Glass" (2003), the true story of pseudo-journalist Stephen Glass, whose meteoric career at The New Republic ended with his exposure for fabricating 27 of his 41 stories there.

Mr. Ray was up to that task but, sorry to say, not this one. He mishandles key plot twists and clues, such as the suspect's violent comic book drawings and - that rare thing - an S&M baseball fetish. …

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