Monday, December 21, 2015

Secret in their Eyes [2015]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (O)  ChicagoTribune (2 Stars) (2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (2.75 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
ChicagoTribune (M.. Phillips) review (S. Wloszczyna) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review  

Secret in their Eyes [2015] (screenplay and directed by Billy Ray based on the Argentinian 2010 Academy Award Winning - for Best Foreign Language film - El Segreto de sus Ojos [2009] by Juan José Campanella and Eduardo Sacheri) is a pretty good American adaptation of the Argentinian original, though I would recommend renting the original (it's available on Amazon Instant Video) because I'm more or less certain that viewers would get more out of the both versions.

In the current American version, a New York based African-American FBI agent Ray (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) comes back to Los Angeles after 15 years with a lead to reopen / solve a "botched case" involving the brutal rape and murder of the daughter of a LAPD police officer named Jess (played by Julia Roberts) when the two, along with a then young L.A. based State's Attorney named Claire (played by Nicole Kidman) were working together as part of a joint anti-terrorism task force in Los Angeles during the early years of the War on Terror following the 9/11 attacks during the G.W. Bush (Bush II...) Presidency.   

In the Argentinian version, a similarly handsome / "darker complected" (Semitic / North African / Mediterranean looking) Argentinian police investigator named Benjamín Esposito (played by Ricardo Darín) comes back to Buenos Aires after 25 years with "a lead" to reopen / solve a "botched case" involving the brutal rape and murder of the wife of an utterly random young Buenos Aires "office worker" / "accountant" named Morales (played by Pablo Rago) back when Esposito was working with a young / fresh out of school prosecuting attorney named Irene Menéndez Hastings (played by Soledad Villamil) during the closing years of the Isabel Perón presidency (in the mid-1970s) and just as Argentina's infamous "Dirty War" against a Communist insurgency was about to begin.

In both cases, the reason why the original case was "botched" was because of "national security reasons," and yet a terrible crime had been committed.  How then to redress this injustice?   Much, of course, in both versions, ensues ...

Again, I do think that the two films complement each other.  But I do have to say that the Argentinian original played _much more_ with "the eyes" of the various characters (_how_ they looked, _toward whom_ they looked) than in the American remake.  On the other hand, perhaps the "largest set of eyes" in the American remake was simply the "surveillance state" apparatus that's come to exist here since 9/11.  That wasn't yet possible, certainly not to the same degree, back in Argentina of 1974.

In any case, both films, especially taken together make for thought-provoking / discussion-producing tales.

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