Friday, November 20, 2015


Gripping Yet Absurd

By Tinsel &Tine Contributor Mikhail Revlock

Secret in Their Eyes is easily the most preposterous film I have reviewed for Tinsel & Tine, outranking RunAll Night and even Beyondthe Reach. It is a film in which detectives look for a suspect in Dodger Stadium and find him in the first section they search. It is a film in which a self-published comic book is held up as incriminating evidence. It is a film in which Julia Roberts crawls into a dumpster, curls up beside her slain daughter, and weeps profusely as Chiwetel Ejiofor slowly backs away.

A remake of the Oscar-Winning (and less awkwardly titled) El Secreto de Sus Ojos, this retelling revolves around the efforts of Ray (Ejiofor), Jess (Roberts), and Claire (Nicole Kidman) to find and punish the murderer of Jess’s daughter. It ping-pongs, often clumsily, in True Detective fashion, between the past and present. The effect is initially jarring and disorienting, but one eventually gets accustomed to it and starts reflexively searching each scene for indicators of time period, including hairstyles, clothing, and anthrax scaremongers.

Hair and Make-up seems to have focused most of their energies on making Roberts look as dowdy as possible. Her messy hair and sallow skin convey the cumulative weight of her daughter’s death. This is the kind of starkly unglamorous role one typically associates with Charlize Theron, and Roberts lacks the acting muscles to disappear into the character. Instead one feels like Roberts is playing ugly dress-up. It feels almost cruel, especially when Kidman, playing a district attorney, is furnished with a host of flattering angles and outfits.

Secret in Their Eyes is not without entertainment value, and I found myself becoming immersed in the plot even as its contrived mechanics became more evident. (I confess that even though I had to pee for the greater part of the film’s runtime, I stayed rooted to my seat for fear of missing a critical plot element.) The chase scene in Dodger Stadium is briskly shot and exciting, and the subsequent interrogation scene is fraught with psychosexual tension. In a mystery, it is all about the distribution of information. The solution is rarely mind-blowing, but as long as the clues keep coming at a steady clip the puzzle remains engaging. 

Billy Ray, the writer-director of Secret in Their Eyes, is a seasoned screenwriter, so it’s no surprise that the script is the strongest aspect of the film. Although he has directed a couple good films, he hasn’t sat in the director’s chair in eight years, and his rustiness is all too apparent. The actors seem ill at ease with one another, and Ejiofer and Kidman fail to generate any sparks even though they are supposed to be secretly in love with one another. The final product lacks a distinctive style and feels akin to an episode of Law & Order. And while the conclusion provides a refreshingly logical spin on the outmoded twist ending, the preceding scenes are too disjointed and bland to be redeemed by a somewhat shocking finale.

LAMB Score: 2.5 outta 5

Mikhail Revlock is a freelance journalist and fiction writer. His hobbies include bicycles, books, and food. A Philadelphia native, he lives in University City with his girlfriend and two cats. Be sure to check out past contributions: Interviews: "Dear White People" director Justin Simien and Kevin MacDonald "Black Sea". Reviews: Room Sicario "American Sniper", "Beyond the Reach", "Run All Night", "Horrible Bosses" "Jupiter Ascending" Event: Insidious Chapter 3 4 D Experience

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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