Monday, July 4, 2016
The Remake Comparison Project - A Life Full of Nothing
Cody and Priscilla investigate the 2009 Argentine film The Secret in Their Eyes and its 2015 American remake.
This Remake Comparison can be traced back to an email Priscilla received one day while I was visiting her in Brazil a couple months ago. The email was from Netflix, telling her they had added a new movie to their streaming service, and she might like it. That movie was the 2015 American remake of the 2009 Argentine film The Secret in Their Eyes. We watched the movie at Netflix's recommendation, and not long after discovered that the original film was also available through the streaming service. It's almost like Netflix was asking us to write this article...
THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (2009)
The idea for The Secret in Their Eyes (or El secreto de sus ojos), a thriller filmed in Argentina and performed in Spanish, came from the mind of author Eduardo Sacheri, who initially wrote it out as a novel published under the title The Question in Their Eyes (or La pregunta de sus ojos). The question became the secret when Sacheri teamed with filmmaker Juan José Campanella to write a screenplay adaptation of his prose.
A native of Argentina, Campanella has worked primarily in American television, but returned to his home country to helm the film version of Sacheri's novel.
Campanell's credits include episodes of shows like House, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, so he had experience working on things involving crime stoppers and mysteries. The Secret in Their Eyes is pretty dark and twisted, but I could still see something like its story happening on a TV cop show. It would just be told in a different way.
The film is about a man who's trying to write a book himself, Ricardo Darín as Benjamín Espósito. Recently retired from his job as a Chief Justice, Benjamín is haunted by a case he was assigned to in Bueno Aires twenty-five years earlier, back in 1974, and is trying to write out his memories. He just can't figure out how to get started.
We see Benjamín try a couple romantic beginnings about two men and the last time they saw the women they love. One departs on a train, the woman chasing after, briefly catching up so they can put their hands on opposite sides of a window. The other is Ricardo Morales (Pablo Rago), having breakfast with his wife Liliana Coloto (Carla Quevedo) for the last time. She was raped and murdered later that day.
The train scene is too personal and off point, but that breakfast description would have made a fine start for the book. But Benjamín throws it away.
Benjamín's romantic thoughts come to a jarring end with the imagined sight of Liliana's horrific final moments.
To help break through his mental block, Benjamín goes to see Judge Irene Menéndez Hastings (Soledad Villamil), a woman he has been infatuated with ever since she became his boss straight out of graduating from Cornell in 1974. She had a boyfriend at the time, then became engaged, and he was never able to properly make his move. He was even too nervous to compliment her in the mornings, something that his married assistant Pablo Sandoval (Guillermo Francella), who had no romantic interest in Irene, could do quite well.
He couldn't use lines on Irene in the '70s, but when he walks into the court to see her in the present he's complimenting every woman who crosses his path.
Including a woman who doesn't even acknowledge his presence, in any way. Took all this time for him to learn, and he still borrowed from Pablo. Not cool.
The visit with Irene does indeed get Benjamín's writing going, as she gifts him with the typewriter he used for work in 1974 - to this point he had been trying to write the book by hand - and tells him to "start at the beginning and stop dwelling on it."
Benjamín felt unfairly assigned to the Liliana Coloto case, believing another court should have handled it, and seeing her corpse clearly has an instant emotional effect on him.
Since I saw the remake first, this moment left me wondering whether or not Benjamín had any personal connection to Liliana. Actually, up to this point the storytelling was a bit confusing to me, because I had the remake in mind.
Campanella handles this moment well, lingering on Liliana's face, her left hand with the wedding ring, the pictures of her and Ricardo, as Benjamín connects with her humanity.
It's a brutal sight, and still not too graphic, because you're more focused on Benjamín's reaction.
That other court does arrest two men who were working near Liliana's apartment. They even confess to the crime, but that confession gets thrown out when Benjamín realizes it was beaten out of them by corrupt Counselor Romano and the guys are innocent.
Benjamín finds his own suspect while visiting Ricardo Morales. Benjamín looks through a scrapbook filled with pictures of Liliana in her hometown of Chivilcoy. Several of these pictures feature a young man named Isidoro Gómez (Javier Godino), and in each one, regardless of the setting, he is looking at Liliana with a worshiping look on his face.
Benjamín knows what Isidoro is feeling in these images. Later we'll see a picture from Irene's engagement party that shows him looking at her just like Isidoro looks at Liliana. And he can tell by the look in Isidoro's eyes that he was the killer.
Here we have a reason for the title. The secret is in Isidoro's eyes. I'm not sure what the "question" of the novel's title was, though.
Makes sense that they changed the title, because Benjamín never questions if Isidoro was the killer, he knew it from the start.
With a call to Isidoro's mother, Ricardo is able to confirm that the man knew Liliana personally - they grew up together, Isidoro really liked her, then she moved away to Buenos Aires and Isidoro never saw her again. But he's not in Chivilcoy anymore, either. He left for Buenos Aires a month earlier. When Ricardo hears this information, he breaks down in tears.
I really like this scene. The emotional part is conveyed extremely well.
Isidoro can't be located in Buenos Aires, so Benjamín needs permission to search his mother's home in Chivilcoy. That's permission that the judge - the man who wrongly assigned him to the case and now has it out for him for getting Romano in trouble - refuses to grant.
So Benjamín goes outside the law, with the help of Pablo. Pablo is an alcoholic who has driven his wife to the edge by constantly being drunk. He drinks away his paychecks, so Benjamín covers his latest bar bill so he won't get in trouble with the bartender or his wife and drags his reluctant assistant along with him on his illegal search.
I have to say I don't exactly like Pablo. Married man hitting on other women, takes his wife for granted and drinks way too much. Not my type of person.
The two court workers break into Mrs. Gómez's place while she's out. They locate a stack of letters written by Isidoro, then Mrs. Gómez gets back home with her little dog and they have to make a run for it. The dog chases them, so one of them kicks it and sends it flying.
The way this moment is shot, I get the impression it's supposed to be something that we laugh at. As an animal person, I hate this moment. I can't laugh at the sight of a dog getting kicked.
Not funny at all. I can only guess it was Pablo who did it. Suits his personality.
A lot of the scenes involving Pablo are presented in a comedic way, and the dog kicking aside they are generally amusing. This makes sense, given the fact that Guillermo Francella is apparently a big comedy star in Argentina.
Benjamín is able to find absolutely nothing in the letters, it's almost like they're written in code, naming random people. He and Pablo also get in serious trouble from the judge, but Irene is able to convince him not to punish them for going behind his back. The main result of their trip to Chivilcoy is the fact that the Liliana Coloto case is closed, sealed, and archived.
Her killer has gotten away with murder.
The closing of the case is followed by a present day scene in which Irene tells Benjamín that she won't be reading his book because she can't look back at the past with him. She has a job, a husband, and children, and she needs to keep looking forward.
We're a bit short of the halfway mark and the film hits a low point. If this were a two-part mini-series, this could be the cliffhanger ending of part one. How can things possibly progress from here? Will Benjamín get Irene to read his book? Tune in next time.
1975. Benjamín happens to see Ricardo sitting in a train station. The widower tells him that he sits in a train station every day of the week, waiting to see Isidoro walk through. He assumes that Benjamín is still investigating Liliana's murder, and Benjamín lies, telling him he is.
How would Ricardo be able to recognize Isidoro, having only seen him in pictures? He looks pretty regular, and there are so many people walking around in the train station. I guess it's the kind of love Benjamín noticed Ricardo had for Liliana.
Ricardo's desire is to see Isidoro receive life in prison. He doesn't agree with the death penalty, it's too simple. Isidoro wouldn't be raped and beaten to death like Liliana, he would just be given an injection. Ricardo wants him to live a long life trapped behind bars. A life full of nothing.
Benjamín goes to see Irene, building up to a question he wants to ask her. He says that he is seeing things from a different angle, something occurred that made him come to a realization about his life. He has to ask Irene something and it might upset her, but he has to try. Hearing this, Irene gets up to close her office door so they can have privacy.
Poor Benjamín. He's so preoccupied with the case and so certain that he has no chance with Irene that he doesn't realize this was his moment. Irene thought he was going to reveal his feelings to her, and it's obvious that she would have been receptive, despite being engaged. It's not obvious to Benjamín.
Even though there were facts that might have been issues if they got together, it seems strange to me that Benjamín wouldn't even try to let Irene know how he felt about her. If he had such strong feelings for her, nothing should get in the way, he should've told her.
Before Irene can close the door, Pablo enters. This isn't about their personal relationship. Benjamín wants her to re-open the Liliana Coloto case. She does, and soon after Pablo has a breakthrough. Looking through those stolen letters written by Isidoro, he realizes that it reveals the guy's passion. Pablo's passion is getting drunk. Benjamín's is Irene. And Isidoro's is soccer. The names in his letters are the names of players for the Racing soccer team.
If Isidoro is to be found, it will almost certainly be at a Racing game, so Benjamín and Pablo go to the stadium to look for him, hoping to find him among the spectators. They find him at the fourth game they attend.
If The Secret in Their Eyes is known for anything, it's for the soccer stadium sequence. I didn't realize this was the movie that had that sequence in it, but once it started during my first viewing of the film in 2016 I remembered that I had seen this sequence several years before. Pulling this sequence off was such an accomplishment that the clip was released online.
The scene is really impressive. Although what goes on during it, that they happen to find Isidoro - a guy they had only seen pictures of - in such a crowded place can be a little too much, just like the fact that Benjamín simply knows Isidoro was the killer, solely based on the look he had in his eyes in the pictures.
Everything at the soccer stadium, a sequence that lasts nearly seven minutes, is presented as if it was one continuous take, even though it starts off with a helicopter shot swooping in on the stadium, watching the game from above, and then finding Benjamín and Pablo in the stands (where 200 extras became 50,000 people through digital trickery) and joining them. The camera stays with them as they find Isidoro and give chase, following them through hallways and in and out of rooms. When Isidoro drops down a couple stories, the camera drops with him.
It is a very impressive sequence. I really like seeing tricks like this done from time to time. Did it have to be so complicated? Not at all. But it's fun that Campanella decided to shoot it the way he did.
Isidoro is apprehended and Benjamín takes him in for questioning, hoping to get a confession out of him before the judge arrives and releases him since the evidence is so flimsy. Irene and Benjamín argue about this, and when she turns to walk away from him at one point he grabs her shirt, accidentally ripping out the top buttons.
When Irene comes into the interrogation room to tell Benjamín something while he's talking to Isidoro (who takes the bus into Buenos Aires, that's why Ricardo never saw him at the train stations), she notices Isidoro staring at her unbuttoned blouse in a very creepy, pervy way. So she joins in on the questioning, baiting and belittling Isidoro, driving him to a point where he becomes enraged and reveals that he is the killer.
The nearly eight minutes set in the interrogation room are as impressive as the stadium scene, for different reasons.
This is probably my favorite scene in the movie. Acting at its finest. For a split second there Isidoro almost looks innocent to me, and then the way he pervs on Irene pulls you right back to Benjamín's point of view and how certain he is that Isidoro is the one.
This scene is great to watch because the performances are fantastic and it's enjoyable to see Isidoro tormented once we know he has to be guilty. If there were any question that he were innocent, it wouldn't be as effective as it is.
Isidoro is convicted and imprisoned. Some time later, Benjamín, Irene, and Ricardo discover he has been released when they see him on TV, serving as a guard for the country's president. The official responsible is Counselor Romano, who was transferred after trying to frame the two workers for Liliana's murder.
I don't get this. Wouldn't Irene and Benjamín be the first to know that Isidoro was released? They're the ones that put him in jail, so it's their safety on the line. I don't understand how they weren't warned about it.
This was a turbulent time for Argentina. They were right at the start of the Dirty War, waged between the military dictatorship at the head of the country and leftist guerillas, with everyone who had left-leaning political views also being caught up in the violence. Isidoro started working for the government while in jail, spying and informing on guerrillas. He has done good work for them, he's intelligent and brave, and his murder conviction is brushed off as being his own business. That's his personal life.
I can't stand it when rape is referred to as "personal life". That's beyond ridiculous and wrong.
I wasn't aware of the Dirty War before watching this film. It really only plays into the story with the release of Isidoro, but it was a clever idea to work historical events into a crime film like this.
Might make the fact that they released Isidoro more believable, but it still feels like Irene and Benjamín should've been told about it.
Benjamín and Irene can't do anything about Isidoro. Leaving Romano's office, they find themselves sharing an elevator with him, armed with his government-issue handgun. They ride in uncomfortable silence.
Another scene that seriously benefits from great acting, from everyone involved. The tension is not subtle.
As they recover from this shock, Irene's wedding date is drawing near. Tired of Benjamín not making a move, she makes a move for him, planning for them to have coffee together so he can express the objections about her impending marriage that he has been keeping to himself. It's a date he never reaches.
I don't get his love for her. She basically told him to go for it, and still... nothing.
Pablo is out on the town making a drunken spectacle of himself, so Benjamín takes him back to his place. The phone at Pablo's house doesn't work, so Benjamín leaves to get Pablo's wife and bring her back to see her husband at his place. They need to get him help.
I really don't understand why Benjamín didn't take Pablo with him to his own house...
Same here. Makes absolutely no sense to me.
When Benjamín and Pablo's wife arrive at his apartment, they find that the door has been kicked in and Pablo has been murdered. It's assumed that he was killed by government men who either mistook him for Benjamín or wanted to kill someone close to Benjamín in retaliation for his issues with Isidoro and Romano.
Irene's father has connections and will be able to keep her safe in Buenos Aires, but she has Benjamín transferred to the town of Jujuy, where her cousins are "like feudal lords". She sees him off at the train station, that romantic scene Benjamín was writing about at the beginning of the film.
Finally some sort of loving display from Benjamín.
With that, the portion of the film set in the '70s has reached its conclusion.
In the present, Irene has read Benjamín's book after all, but the story remains unresolved after the train scene. He can't just write that she went on to have a family and a successful career while he had a failed marriage because he could never love anyone else. He needs an ending related to the case.
The last address listed for Isidoro was his mother's place, but Irene and Benjamín are able to locate an address for Ricardo from when he moved from Buenos Aires to a home in the countryside in 1975, after Isidoro was captured and set free. Benjamín goes out there to talk to the widower more than twenty years after he last saw him... And in the final twenty minutes of The Secret in Their Eyes, Benjamín makes a shocking discovery.
I think the film has been very good up to this point, but the twist is really what makes it. It is the main reason why I would recommend that people watch the movie.
The best thing about the movie and the story is the twist. I don't think The Secret in Their Eyes needed to be as long as it is though, I think that a shorter running time would've made me enjoy it more. I did like it, but it feels too long.
I'm not generally a fan of police procedurals, I don't enjoy watching the Law & Order sort of TV shows that Campanella worked on, but even if those don't appeal to you I find that this film still has enough interesting elements to make it worthwhile. The pursuit of Isidoro. The love story. The banter between Benjamín and Pedro. The time in Argentina's history that it's set during. The performances of the actors. All of these things kept me captivated.
I like movies and TV shows like this, and I watch a lot of them, which is why I know by now that a shorter running time is usually the way to go. The pace of the movie didn't work for me, I found myself a little distracted a few times because it felt slow, and due to some things that feel off, like how they were able to find a man they had never seen, among thousands of people, Benjamín's lack of action toward his feelings for Irene, and why Benjamín left Pablo alone in his apartment.
There is some great acting in here. That's hard to judge when you don't know what the actors are saying, but I can tell by the way they deliver those lines I don't understand, their expressions, their demeanor. There is also some great special effects work put to use aging and de-aging the actors depending on what decade a scene is set in. There were some cases where I wasn't certain which age the actor might actually be closer to being.
Acting is the best aspect of the movie, by far. Every single actor is superb, and you can't help but feel invested in their stories. Without such a solid cast, The Secret in Their Eyes wouldn't be what it is.
The more I broke this movie down and examined all of its parts for this article, the more I began to appreciate and enjoy it. There is some really wonderful storytelling going on in here. Campanella continues to work on TV shows, but I'm wishing he would direct more films, because with this one he showed promise of being a master of the craft.
I didn't love the movie, but it has good things going for it, and I do think directing is one of those.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences gave The Secret in Their Eyes an Oscar, naming it the Best Foreign Language Film of 2009. I don't know if I would bestow it with that honor, I'd have to do some heavy research to figure that out, but I can definitely see why it won that award.
I can't say much, without being familiar with the other movies that were nominated, but The Secret in Their Eyes is an interesting movie. Not one I see myself watching all the time, but definitely something people should watch, at least once.
SECRET IN THEIR EYES (2015)
With The Secret in Their Eyes winning an Oscar, it's no surprise that the American remake rights were acquired pretty quickly. The project was set up at Warner Bros. in 2010 and offered to filmmaker Billy Ray, whose two previous directorial efforts, Breach and Shattered Glass, were both dramas based on true stories. Ray has also served as a screenwriter on films like Captain Phillips and The Hunger Games, and in 2009 had helped adapt the British mini-series State of Play into a feature film for Universal Pictures. He accepted the job and even got as far as offering the lead role to Denzel Washington before Warner Bros. hit the brakes.
Warner Bros. eventually lost the rights to Secret in Their Eyes. The rights were then picked up by the company IM Global, who put the project into production years later with Billy Ray still at the helm.
His approach to adapting Eduardo Sacheri and Juan José Campanella's story for an American setting was to move the past time period up from 1974 to 2002 - whereas the Argentine film dealt with the beginning of the Dirty War, the American film is set in the aftermath of 9/11.
I really like the choice to add in the terrorism angle, because it gives some facts a more believable vibe.
It is commendable that Billy Ray chose to have his version of the story tie in with real world history like the original film did.
The lead character is Ray Kasten (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), first introduced in 2015 as a man haunted by the past who has spent every night of the last thirteen years of his life sifting through the pictures of every caucasian male in the U.S. prison system. Looking at 1,906 faces every night while moments from 2002 - including the brutal rape and murder of a young girl named Carolyn Cobb (Zoe Graham) - flash through his mind.
And then Ray believes he has found the one man he was looking for among 696,000 possibilities. A guy named Anzor Marzin, a.k.a. Pac-Man (Joe Cole), who is now apparently known as Clay Beckwith and was just released from jail on parole after serving ten years for armed robbery. He seems to have undergone plastic surgery, but he's the right age and Ray recognizes him through the changes.
The beginning of the movie is more clear and on point than the original. The first time I saw Secret in Their Eyes, I didn't know it was a remake, yet it was easier to follow than the beginning of The Secret in Their Eyes.
Ray goes to Los Angeles to give this information to District Attorney Claire Sloan (Nicole Kidman) and Chief Investigator Jess Cobb (Julia Roberts), as this discovery could lead to the re-opening of a case that has been closed since 2002.
In 2002, Ray was a New York-based FBI agent who came out to Los Angeles to serve on a counter-terrorism task force keeping surveillance on the suspicious activity surrounding a mosque. Ray's co-workers on this team included Jess, Bumpy Willis (Dean Norris), and Reginald Siefert (Michael Kelly).
Michael Kelly oozes so much smarm that I take a disliking to Siefert as soon as he appears on the screen.
Claire also joined the team, serving as an assistant to the then-District Attorney, the head of the task force. Ray first met her when they were both getting their I.D. pictures taken. He was instantly attracted to her, and then disappointed to see an engagement ring on her finger. The more they're around each other, the more his attraction to her grows, but this ring holds him back from ever attempting to make a move on her or tell her how he feels.
One day a call comes in about the body of a young girl having been found in a dumpster near the mosque, bleached inside and out. Ray and Jess report to the scene and are horrified to see that this girl is Jess's beloved daughter Carolyn.
That is a very powerful scene. Since I didn't know what the movie was about when I first watched it, it got me anxious for a few seconds because I kept trying to guess what Ray saw. What could be so terrible - beyond the obvious - that got to him that badly.
Connecting the victim to one of the leads was a smart idea, it keeps things more contained and intense. The dead woman's husband was barely around in the original, but Jess is a major player throughout the remake.
And her reaction when she sees her daughter like that is devastating. Great acting from Julia Roberts. Not to mention that finding Carolyn's body in the dumpster, bleached inside and out, is even more brutal than the way Liliana was found in the original movie.
Billy Ray had originally intended to keep the relationships exactly the same. The victim was going to be the wife of one of Ray Kasten's male co-workers. That male co-worker became a female when the opportunity arose to cast Julia Roberts, and the casting of Roberts was an extremely lucky thing, because she provided the idea that shapes the remake. The idea that the victim should be her character's daughter.
I can't imagine the remake working nearly as well if it weren't for the mother/daughter element that Roberts brought to the story.
I think this is one of the best decisions they could've made. It not only makes everything way more personal, but it also adds another level to the plot, since Jess is a cop. Plus, it gives a better explanation as to why everyone is and stays so involved, even after so many years.
The writer/director gives Ray a very personal reason to be obsessed with the Carolyn Cobb case. He is close friends with Jess, he would hang out with her and Carolyn during his downtime, they tried to play matchmaker for him - which mainly consisted of them suggesting that he ask Claire out. Carolyn had asked him to help her with a surprise birthday party for her mom. He was supposed to meet her at a bakery and pay for the cake she was buying... but he couldn't make it to the bakery, he had case work to file. And Carolyn's car is found outside that bakery. She was taken by her killer from the place where Ray was supposed to be with her.
I love it that it gives a more reasonable explanation as to why Ray is still so invested after so long. The guilt, and the fact that they were all friends really gives the remake extra flavor.
If there is one area where the remake exceeds the original, it's in the way it deepens the characters' emotional connections. Everything is much more personal this time.
Trying to pick up the pieces after the death of her daughter, Jess decides to move to a place in the countryside. As Ray helps her pack, he finds pictures of Jess and Carolyn that were taken at an office picnic party. A guest stands out to him. A young man who is staring at Carolyn in every image. Marzin. The way he's looking at her makes him the prime suspect as far as Ray's concerned.
We'll later see Ray staring at Claire in a picture just like Marzin was staring at Carolyn, but Billy Ray doesn't really play up the looks in the photos as much as Campanella did. Even though the picture is what convinces Ray that Marzin is the killer, I didn't find the explanation for the title to be as obvious in this one.
I think the remake is more about the secret in another pair of eyes. Jess's.
In the original film, Benjamín wasn't doing much in present day other than write his book. The remake has Ray conducting investigations in both the past and the present, cutting back and forth between the two time periods.
No one in the task force office seems to know who Marzin is, so Ray crosses the line a bit and uses counter-terrorism resources to search for the suspect, skating by using the excuse that since Carolyn's body was found near the mosque he may still be fighting terrorism by looking for her killer. A scan of the picnic picture identifies Marzin as being someone from the mosque.
Ray takes the Marzin information to District Attorney Martin Morales (Alfred Molina), a two-faced fellow who sees Ray as a rival for Claire's affections. He wants Ray to focus on counter-terrorism work and says he'll pass things over to the police.
I always like seeing Alfred Molina turn up in a movie, even if he's playing a jerk like Morales.
An arrest is quickly made. Someone other than Marzin confesses to Carolyn's murder. Ray is able to immediately deduce that it's a false confession coerced out of a random guy because Siefert is trying to divert attention away from Marzin. Through some physical intimidation, Ray gets Siefert to admit to this and reveal that Marzin is his snitch, spying on the mosque from within and reporting back to the task force.
I honestly couldn't tell you why Romano beat a confession out of those workers in the original movie, since I don't think Isidoro was working for him at that time. I guess it was just random corruption. Here the fake confession makes total sense.
Exactly. That's what I love about the remake... everything makes more sense, everything is connected and has a reason to be. It doesn't feel "loose" like some aspects in the original do.
Siefert had invited Marzin to the office picnic because Marzin thinks of himself as a big shot, attending such a thing would make him feel important and a step closer to attaining his dream of being a cop.
Siefert even takes it a step further than Romano and refers to the rape as Marzin's "love life". That's even worse than "personal life".
Since Morales and Siefert are both trying to throw him off Marzin's trail, Ray steps outside the law to go after the guy, and recruits Bumpy to help him search the place where Marzin is living with a stripper.
I'm not clear on what Marzin's relationship with this stripper is supposed to be. She sure isn't his mother.
I'm pretty sure she was his girlfriend.
Searching the place, Ray and Bumpy find not a stack of letters written by the suspect but a comic book called The Justifier, written and drawn by Marzin. The story features a man declaring "I am the monster!" to a young woman he has tied up. Their search is interrupted by the return of the stripper and her little dog, so the men make a run for it, taking the comic book with them.
And Billy Ray replicates the kicking of the dog "joke" exactly, shooting it in the same way Campanella did. And it's still not funny. At least we see the dog go back to running after it has been kicked through the air, so we know it's not hurt too bad.
Bumpy, now walking with a cane and a limp, is also recruited to help Ray with his modern day investigation. Beckwith has skipped parole, but his parole officer advises the pair that they might be able to find him at the race track, as the guy seems to have an unhealthy fixation on horses.
Ugh. What a disgusting creep.
Ray and Bumpy do indeed find Clay Beckwith at the horse track, hanging around the stables and perving over the horses. When confronted, Beckwith doesn't seem familiar with the nickname "Pac-Man" and doesn't appear to recognize Ray, but he does react to the sight of Bumpy's badge. He turns and runs, a foot chase that ends with Ray getting a shovel to the gut, resulting in a couple broken ribs.
This sort of scene is the bread and butter of TV police procedurals. I sit through those CBS programs with my father from time to time and it seems like they have a foot chase in every episode.
A stable worker confirms that Beckwith is often seen lurking around the race track, stealing cars from the parking lot. The worker keeps his distance because he doesn't like the way Beckwith looks at the horses.
Horses are Beckwith's passion. Upon close examination of the Justifier comic book, Bumpy and Jess discover Marzin's. The Dodgers baseball team. Characters in the comic are named in reference to people connected to the Dodgers, and a creature in it has the coloring of a rival team's uniforms. Jess tells Ray that a person can't deny their passions. Her life was based around Carolyn. Ray's passion is his hopeless love for Claire. If Marzin loves the Dodgers so much, he's bound to turn up at a bar frequented by former players at some point. Like Ricardo waiting in train stations in the original, Jess intends to sit in this bar every night until Marzin shows up.
A better, and more sensible decision than sitting at the train station, like Ricardo did in the original.
Ray and Bumpy decide to look for him at Dodgers games instead. Billy Ray starts the baseball stadium sequence with a shot very much like the one the soccer stadium sequence in the first movie started with, but once the camera finds Ray and Bumpy in the stands he cuts. He does not follow through with the one take approach that Campanella took.
That was probably a wise decision. You don't want to go head to head with a technical accomplishment that got as much recognition as the soccer stadium sequence did.
True. And the scene is still very intense, so it served its purpose anyway. I like the fact that it took them ten games to find Marzin, it improves the chances of something like that actually happening for real.
Ray and Bumpy locate Marzin in the stands at the tenth game they attend, and a chase ensues that takes them throughout the stadium. During this chase, we see how Bumpy acquired the limp he has in 2015.
Marzin sure can get around. This kid is using some tricks that remind me of Sebastien Foucan in the parkour sequence at the beginning of Casino Royale. And within the story, he's doing these things four years before Casino Royale even came out.
The chase ends with Ray apprehending Marzin.
Just before he was caught, it looked like Marzin was going to try to jump from one level of the stands to another. What a lunatic.
He probably wouldn't have survived that fall, or maybe he would. Either way, it was a great way to put the chase to an end.
Once caught, Marzin is cooperative and interested in the process. He wants to be a cop, you know? But as he sits waiting in an interrogation room, Ray and Claire argue over his capture - they don't have a case against him, so Claire is demanding that he be released. Ray begs to be able to ask him some questions. At one point, Claire turns to walk away from him and Ray grabs her shirt, accidentally tearing out her top buttons.
Claire agrees to give Ray a few minutes with Marzin. The questioning begins, and after a few minutes Claire comes in to tell Ray to end it. But then she notices Marzin staring down her blouse. Much like Irene in the Argentine movie, Claire joins in on the questioning, baiting and belitting Marzin, driving him to a point where he becomes enraged and reveals that he is the killer.
If there was any doubt as to whether or not Marzin was guilty, it goes out the window as soon as we see his reactions to Claire. He's one of the biggest creeps I've ever seen.
I had a split second of doubt watching this scene in the original movie, but here it's crystal clear from the beginning. Isidoro was more subtle, Marzin is a complete, flat out creep.
There is a shot in the original that was not replicated for the remake, and you know going in that's not going to be because this version is rated PG-13. Isidoro and Marzin both expose themselves to the females interrogating them, but while Isidoro's genitals got a close-up, Marzin's do not. This movie was shot for an R rating, then they went for the PG-13 in post-production. Did they film the penis? Was the penis cut? Would the R rated version feature an uncut penis? (Circumcision puns intended.)
Penis or no penis, I think that this scene is more effective in the original, although Ray's reaction to Marzin striking Claire is wilder.
Morales had promised Ray he would charge Marzin if there was a case against him. He said he wouldn't let a rapist/murderer go free. Now that Marzin is in custody, Morales goes back on his word. Nothing comes before their efforts in counter-terrorism. Marzin is too important to them. He is released and deemed officially untouchable.
Another thing that makes more sense in the remake. In the original, they decide to get a rapist/murderer out of jail to play a serious security role out of the blue. Here their hidden agenda is one I can buy.
Leaving Morales's office, Ray and Claire find themselves sharing an elevator with Marzin. They ride in uncomfortable silence as Marzin rubs his freedom in their faces. Jess had been notified that her daughter's killer had been captured, and she happens to be getting onto the elevator just as Marzin steps off.
The encounter between Jess and Marzin makes the scene more awkward and intense at the same time.
Ray stops the elevator to have a personal conversation with Jess right in front of Claire. A conversation Claire shouldn't be hearing, as Ray tells Jess they should just go after Marzin and kill him. Jess shuts down this idea. She never wanted Marzin to get the death penalty, she wants him to serve a life sentence in prison. A life full of nothing. Death would be too good for him, and if she killed him she's the one who would end up serving the life sentence.
Left alone in the elevator, Jess thinks back to a night at home with Carolyn. Carolyn wanted to go on a date with an older boy, but to go she would have to miss the office picnic Jess had invited her to. Jess begged her to go to the picnic instead, because in three months Carolyn was going to be leaving for college. Before that happened, she wanted every moment with her daughter she could get. Carolyn did turn down the date to go to the picnic, and that's where Marzin first saw her.
So both Jess and Ray have direct reasons to feel guilty and responsible for what happened to Carolyn. Billy Ray really did well giving his characters a depth of emotion.
I agree. That's more than enough reason why no one can move on from what happened.
Claire might need to quit her job working for Morales. Ray expects to be sent back to New York. As he walks her to her car, he has obviously, finally, worked up the courage to put his feelings for her out in the open. He wants to make his move before they have to part.
Just when that breakthrough is about to occur, they get a call notifying them that a van has been found wrecked nearby. The driver fled. Marzin took Carolyn in a van. Raped and killed her in it. Dumped her body from it. They never expected to find the van, but now it's right out on the street. This could prove Marzin's guilt regardless of Morales and Siefert trying to keep him safe. Unfortunately, this is just another stage in their cover-up. The van is on fire. Siefert had access to it and Morales ordered him to burn it.
Ray and Claire were holding hands as they approached the scene of the wreck. Seeing the burning vehicle, they let go. And thus ends the segment of the film set in 2002.
And Ray never did make his move. He could have still done it after seeing the van, he was already feeling hopeless about the case before the call came in so I don't see how that changed things. Silly guy.
Even then, Ray is still more upfront about his feelings than Benjamín ever was. The thing in the remake is that Claire really doesn't seem to be that interested in him until he beats the heck out of Marzin, unlike Irene and her blatant "come and get me" bits in the original.
The next stage in the 2015 investigation also involves a vehicle. The horse stable worker notifies Ray the next time Beckwith steals a car from the lot and Ray follows him to a chop shop. Jess and Siefert also show up at the chop shop, and in the ensuing confrontation Siefert is shot and killed.
There's a Hollywood change in the story - a character getting comeuppance. His Argentine counterpart got away just fine.
The death of Siefert hits Jess harder than it does Ray, who believes Siefert had to answer for Carolyn as well, and she does not agree with him that Beckwith is Marzin.
Claire has told Ray that she doesn't like looking back as much as he does, she faces forward. But she ends up looking back with him anyway. They discuss her marriage to the man she was engaged to in 2002, and the fact that Ray had a marriage that failed because the woman he was with wasn't Claire.
Ray left, but Claire continued to work with Morales and Siefert after everything that happened. I don't understand how she was able to do that. I wouldn't be able to be around those guys.
Claire doesn't let her emotions become involved, she's somewhat cold and has the need to prove that she's extremely professional.
After the chop shop incident, Ray goes to Claire's home, and her husband walks in on them talking. His reaction: "Sure, move him in. He's been living here for the last twelve years anyway." Claire has been as hung up on Ray as he has been on her.
In the original movie, it seems like Irene did a better job moving on... she even has kids. In the remake, Claire is clearly still hung up on Ray, yet she does absolutely nothing about it.
Jess invites Ray and Claire over to her home, where she confesses to them that she knew all along that Beckwith wasn't Marzin. Ray's years of searching have been pointless: Marzin walked into that Dodgers bar not long after Ray returned to New York in 2002. She captured him, killed him, and buried him in her yard.
Ray would have been just fine with this information if Jess had told him about it thirteen years earlier, and he wouldn't have had to spend every night looking at 1,906 convicts. Thanks a lot, Jess.
Truth is, Jess had no idea Ray was still looking for Marzin, and she didn't know that Ray felt guilty because he was supposed to meet Carolyn the day she was raped and murdered. She thought everyone had left the past behind.
Something doesn't sit right with Ray about Jess's confession, though. After dropping Claire off at her house -
Here's a storyline where I find the remake lacking in comparison to the original. The resolution of Benjamín and Irene's complicated love story was more satisfying to me than Ray and Claire's simple "Goodnight" and that's that.
I got the feeling that things might have progressed between Ray and Claire eventually. I don't think their goodnight meant goodbye.
Ray goes back to talk to Jess some more. And in the final ten minutes of Secret in Their Eyes, he makes a shocking discovery.
Opposite to my feeling about the resolution of the love story, I find the way the twist is handled here to be more satisfying because of the way Ray chooses to react to it. He brings a firm end to the situation, freeing everyone of the things that have been dragging them down for over a decade.
Everyone can finally move on. I can't think of a more satisfactory way to end the story. It definitely works out better than this specific part of the end in the original.
I think Secret in Their Eyes is a really great remake. Billy Ray stayed true to the original while putting enough of his own spin on the story to make his version stand as a solid film in its own right.
I couldn't agree more. He kept what was good about the original and added elements that made the movie even greater. The remake feels more clear, better explained, and there's less of this randomness feeling that I get from the original. Even the fact that the movie starts with Ray looking at pictures to try and find a man he had actually met and knew well makes more sense than a lot of what we see in The Secret in their Eyes 2009.
Often the characters in remakes won't live up to the characters in original films, but that's definitely not an issue with this one, as the characters are where this remake truly shines.
I was even more invested in these characters than the ones in the original, and that happened before I knew there was an original. I love how clear the deterioration of Jess is. The character wasn't meant to be a looker from the start, but to see the weight of the years, the rage and the secret she had been carrying for 13 years is splendid. Really amazing.
The cast assembled for this take on the idea has a lot to do with how good the character work is. When you hire people like Oscar nominee Ejiofor, Oscar winners Kidman and Roberts, Dean Norris, and Alfred Molina, you know you're going to get the best performances possible, but the material was also there for them to do something special with.
The cast is outstanding. My favorite performances come from Ejiofor and Roberts, but each and every other role in the movie was played perfectly.
Up-and-comer Joe Cole also makes a strong impression as Marzin. He seems like a guy who can disappear into a role, as his Beckwith is very different from Marzin. This movie was my first time seeing Cole in anything, and I've since watched another film he was in and didn't even realize he was the guy from Secret in Their Eyes. It will be interesting to see how his career continues to grow.
Remaking an Oscar winning film is a risky endeavor, but Billy Ray pulled it off and made a movie that I feel is just as worth watching as Juan José Campanella's.
Definitely. Even the fact that Marzin and Carolyn barely knew each other sits better with me than knowing that Isidoro and Liliana were childhood friends.
If I have to pick between the two movies, I'll have to go with the remake. Not only because I prefer the pace and the elements I mentioned before, but I just feel like it's a better movie as a whole. Everything feels more connected, and I don't see myself watching the original as often as I plan to watch the remake.