FBI investigators Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Jess (Julia Roberts), along with District Attorney Claire (Nicole Kidman) are suddenly torn apart when Jess’ teenage daughter Carolyn (Zoe Graham) is brutally murdered. Thirteen years later, after searching for Carolyn’s elusive killer, Ray uncovers a lead that may permanently resolve the case and bring closure to Jess and the team. But no one is prepared for the shocking and unspeakable secret that follows.
So this film is a remake of an Argentinian film of the same name which won the Oscar in 2010 for Best Foreign Language Film (I was not aware of this until I did a google search for the trailer) so this film has some big shoes to fill. I haven’t seen this film so I can’t speak to how they compare. The idea behind the plot isn’t too overly complex as it involves Ray (Ejiofor) and Claire (Kidman) trying to find Jess’ (Roberts) daughter’s killer and bringing them to justice. We get to follow this investigation over two timelines, in 2002, the year in which the crime occurred, and in 2015, when Ray and Claire investigate Ray’s new lead. For both of those investigations, Ray and Claire are joined by another investigator named Bumpy (Dean Norris) who provided some comic relief and helped to balance out the film’s dark subject matter. It was interesting for me to see both investigations and how they evolved with the passing of time but what I didn’t like is that it was sometimes hard to tell which time it was since the film often jumped between the two. I could not find anything discernable difference between each time as very little changed. The look stayed the same and the characters did not act too differently. One of the few benefits of the time jumping is we got to see the evolution of Roberts’ Jess as her grief seems evident over the course of the thirteen years and has manifested itself as some sort of a disease. But Ray and Claire’s grief has also manifested as a disease which has affected them as well and this guides them (but mostly Ray) to try and solve Carolyn’s murder. There is also a romantic subplot implied between the two but it was barely covered despite feeling a little out of place with the film’s darker subject matter. There was also a subplot about the person they suspected of the crime, a man named Marzin (Joe Cole), being an informant for Ray and Jess’ anti-terrorism investigation of a mosque and the government was covering his involvement with the crime in order to continue using him to take down terrorists but that wasn’t covered too much either. I was just a little disappointed with the film since I had my expectation set perhaps too high with the quality of actors involved but I was just let down by the story. Yes, there is a twist but it won’t exactly come out of nowhere and it probably won’t make any sense to you (as it did for me). The story may have let me down but the acting did not. Ejiofor’s Ray was okay to me, playing the role serviceably while sometimes being a little over-the-top. Kidman was also okay despite being miscast. This was really Roberts’ film despite being more of a supporting character while being advertised as more. Roberts’ Jess’ range of emotions and her raw, makeup-less performance is to be admired. Overall, this is an okay film which could have been much more. If you are a fan of the actors, than you should give this one a chance.