Director : Billy Ray
Writers : Billy Ray & Juan Jose Campanella
Secret in Their Eyes makes you feel old. You wonder how Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman are in the same movie without the whole world talking about it. This should be a massive deal! Then you remember that it's not 1999. But even so, how can a murder mystery movie sustain the weight of their star power.
They both come at it from different directions. Julia Roberts does her best to disappear into the role. The story jumps between 2002 and 2015 and in the early scenes, she dresses like Melissa Leo from Homicide; Life on the Street, all buttoned up and big hair. In the later scenes her hair is back from her face and she allows the camera in close, unshielded by make-up. When Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) tells her that "she looks a million years old" it's genuinely shocking. I assume he apologised profusely once the director yelled cut.
While the baldness of the male supporting crew (Dean Norris and Michael Kelly ), allows their hairpieces to act as markers for which time zone you are in, Nicole Kidman gives us nothing. The rest of the cast play to their age in the 2015 scenes, but Kidman attempts to prove she can defy the process of ageing even within the confines of a fictional film. She was never not Nicole Kidman and seemed to be in a completely different movie. That she was cast as a blue-blooded District Attorney hanging around the blue collar cops wasn't enough to explain it, she wanted to be the Prettiest Woman in the room and it was distracting.
Despite the massive stars on displays, Ejiofor as Ray is the stand-out. He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and carries the movie on his back. While everyone wants to forget, Ray can't help but remember and he never stops working to find the killer. He is a hero cop of a different type from what we are used to. Not great at chasing down suspects or outsmarting them in the interview room, he doesn't even do much of a job of sweeping the girl off her feet. What he does do is bring you into the movie. You feel everything that he feels and that's a connection that his co-stars can't replicate.
Secret in Their Eyes leans heavily on baseball as a central motif. Dodger Stadium is used in a set piece, baseball jargon is sprinkled through the dialogue and the history of the sport even acts as The Enigma machine for an obscure set of clues. It's useful to continue the sporting analogy. Nicole Kidman is still swinging for the fences, unwilling to compromise from the style she employed coming up, but her holding onto the past will inevitably cost her and she will be traded to Bush Leagues if she keeps it up. Roberts though is adapting. The hits don't come as easily anymore, but she is changing her game, finding away to get the job done and this performance hints at a late career reinvention. Edjjifor is the glue guy, you can't be successful without this type of team player. Under appreciated, but completely necessary, it's only a matter of time before he gets that fat contract and be the star of his own team. And when he does, we should all be watching.