Two out of Five Kernels
“Secret in Their Eyes” only manages to prove that when it comes to remakes, the original is always better.
Based on the “The Secret in Their Eyes” (or “El Secreto de Sus Ojos”), an Oscar-winner of Best Foreign Film from Argentina, “Secret in Their Eyes” tells the story of Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Claire (Nicole Kidman), Jess (Julia Roberts) and Bumpy (Dean Norris) as they come back years later to finish an unresolved murder case.
And that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
The remake does more than just take off the “the” and change the language to English. Things are added to the plot that fail to make sense and mess with the pacing of the film. There also are certain themes that run strongly in the original Argentine film that get lost through muddled storytelling.
The story doesn’t grip the audience as firmly as it did in the “El Secreto de Sus Ojos,” either. The whole film feels both rushed and drawn out, and leaves viewers waiting too long for something to happen. Yes, I had an idea of what to expect after seeing the original, but good crime dramas can still be enjoyable even if you’ve seen them 1,000 times.
But enough comparison from the original. A film should be judged on its own merit, right? In this instance it’s still a fairly cut-and-dry case.
Exhibit A: Cheap storytelling and red herrings that only serve to distract the audience.
Exhibit B: The characters are uninspired, inactive and borderline unlikable.
Exhibit C: Confusing flashbacks from past to present (even a flashback in a flashback) that make it hard to keep track of where you’re at in the film.
Exhibit D: Misunderstood themes, making a strong argument against or for one idea, then going reversing course in the closing act.
Exhibit: E: Although the acting is perhaps the biggest asset to the film, the actors seem stiffer as they attempt to come off as gritty and tough.
Exhibit F: For a crime-solving movie there isn’t actually a lot of looking at evidence, just going off on hunches.
Exhibit G: Subplots that are never fully explained or tied up.
Looks like a pretty open-and-shut case. It takes more than just an English translation to do a remake of a film justice.
Although those who haven’t seen “El Secreto de Sus Ojos” might think “Secret in Their Eyes” is just fine, once they see the Spanish language film they’ll quickly change their minds. “El Secreto de Sus Ojos” is a film that makes an impression that’ll stick with you long after you’ve seen it. That is why you’ll be a lot happier if you brush up on your high school Spanish or get ready to read some subtitles and watch the original. Don’t waste your time with the forgettable “Secret of Their Eyes.”