Review: Secret in Their Eyes (2015)

Director: Billy Ray

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman

Release Date: 26th February 2016 (UK)

There’s something to be said about starting as you mean to go on (as I sit here on the train home writing you this review on my mobile phone), so I shall.

Go and see this film. It’s brilliant.

It’s not a swashbuckling and skull-crushing movie, but the editing is an absolute joy to behold. I literally opened my notebook at the beginning of the film and was so engrossed that I struggled to pinch myself to remember to make some notes as it went along.

I have to be honest when I say, I don’t actually consider myself a film buff; certainly not as much as some of you are. Frequently I’ve sat in films in the past, that other people have recommended, and I’ve come out thinking to myself “that’s 110 minutes of my life that I’ll never be able to live again”. So now I live my life on the premise that I only do what I want. Being a bona-fide film critic now; this mantra extends to films accordingly. I chose to review this film for you, and boy am I glad that I could.

I don’t read other reviews or even synopses’ before I watch a movie so I go in knowing nothing about a film save for possibly the cast and what I know of them, you should make sure that you do the same of this one at least. This movie has a stellar mix including Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts and the utterly beguiling Chiwetel Elijofor. As well as our very own Alfred Molina as a cruel, self-serving police chief.

The opening scene moves quickly from a thoughtful mix of well-written script and seriously hot editing and takes us swiftly into an early scene that literally made me feel as though I was being shrink wrapped in my own skin. My blood ran cold and I wondered if the director just commanded Roberts to do her thing. What she does in that moment with her acting is so utterly gut-wrenching that I was then transfixed as we were taken through the whole heady mix of sick secrets, long hidden histories, heartache and the entrenched worry and guilt of things left unsaid and undone for too long.

The eternally icy Kidman is perfect as a clever, chilling ultra-smart legal eagle DA as the film flicks and switches between a beautifully imagined current day Los Angeles legal drama and a grimy post 911 cop-shop chop and drop Starsky and Hutch caper, set in 2002. From the initial plucked string soundtrack, and a glimmer of recognition (or was it hope?), interspersed with an ugly montage of a crime in progress, through to a sinister web of murky police corruption; and terrorism fears all still too relevant 15 years on from that wicked day, this film had me entranced in the manner that only brilliant editing can. I sat enthralled and worried and sickened and angry and sad for what felt like a duration of 5 minutes until the film ended 110 minutes later, that is the craft at its best…

There aren’t any fancy fandangos and with a cast like this one, frankly; why would anyone need them? However of particular note, are the modern day racetrack scenes which are really handsomely contrived and had me dreaming of the less grimy side of beautiful sunny Los Angeles, as well as a wickedly constructed Dodgers game scene that almost made me wet my pants. I took issue with what seemed unfeasible cop corruption; but I think that is a reflection on my own naievty, that any cop hierarchy would come up with such seriously inconceivably half-baked ideas, and of course trying to envisage Kidman (whom sorry; has gone overboard with the needle in her face) being 13 years older for the flashback scenes, the poor make up artist must have had her work cut out for her I swear. Luckily it’s not a smiley kind of film so Kidmans’ frostiness works here but god help anyone who casts her in a Disney comedy is all I can say.

Great acting, great cast, credible, beautifully pacey editing, worthy of your time.

Worthy of mine.

You’ll have to hurry, its been on general release since the 26th February 2016 and risks being buried in the hubris of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Ursidaean violation, although god alone knows how with a starring team like this. I’m glad that I’m not responsible for scheduling these film release dates thats all I can say.

Don’t miss it.


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