THRILLER; 1hr 51min
STARRING: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman
Killer instinct: Roberts and Ejiofor
After the body of a young woman is discovered in a Los Angeles dumpster beside a suspect mosque in 2002, the worlds of FBI counter-terrorist officers Ray and Jess (Ejiofor and Roberts) are variously rocked. The woman is Jess's daughter and Jess is utterly broken. Ray, meanwhile, is instantly obsessed with finding the man responsible. Thirteen years later, that fixation still holds true when Ray returns to LA with what he believes is a sure lead. Nothing much has changed — Jess is still hollowed out and Ray's earlier, elusive crush, Claire (Kidman), is now the married district attorney — but Ray is convinced he can change everything.
With the dexterity of a figure skater, director Billy Ray's tensile screenplay of Argentinian novelist Eduardo Sacheri's 2005 novel El Secreto de Sus Ojos (which also inspired a 2009 Argentinian film) weaves between the two time frames, anatomising scars and notching suspense. Secret 's slippery manoeuvrings are intensely plot-driven but there's more heft in play here than the shady vagaries of criminal injustice. Ejiofor's anguished bullishness is the engine that powers the action, Kidman is silkily wistful and Roberts unadorned is so grief ravaged that it almost hurts to watch.