Monday, November 16, 2015

Will the U.S. remake of ‘The Secret in Their Eyes’ defy the odds and be good?

On Friday, the mystery-thriller “Secret in Their Eyes” opens in U.S. theaters. On paper, the film looks like a winner.
It stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts and was directed by Billy Ray, who previously helmed “Breach” (2007) and “Shattered Glass” (2003). It’s a U.S. remake of the terrific Argentine crime thriller “The Secret in Their Eyes” (2009), which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards in 2010.
Unfortunately, Hollywood has a poor track record when it comes to remaking acclaimed foreign films. Most of the time such remakes are unnecessary. Often times, their tone or style is wrong, as if the stories literally did not translate well.
“The Secret in Their Eyes,” aka “El secreto de sus ojos,” was excellent. Why mess with it?
Now just three days before its release, I get the sense that the remake is no good. Not only is it lacking buzz, there are no early reviews. Other films opening Friday have been thoroughly reviewed. But those films, “Carol,” “Legend” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” have been critically acclaimed, so the studios likely were eager to screen them.

Update (Nov. 21, 2015):  “The Secret in Their Eyes” mustered just 42% positive reviews, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

In November 2009, I wrote about how I was dreading the U.S. remake of the Swedish vampire thriller “Let the Right One In” (2008). I had reason to be concerned. The American remake, “Let Me In” (2010), was not good.
I followed up with two more posts on the subject of U.S. remakes of foreign films. (“U.S. remakes of foreign films a mixed bag” and “Some U.S. remakes, like ‘The Ring’, are just as good as the foreign originals.”)
Since then, other bad U.S. remakes of foreign films have premiered. Most notably they included “Dinner for Schmucks” (2010), “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011) and “Oldboy” (2013).
Such crimes against cinema are likely to continue. Among the movies Hollywood studios have announced plans to redo are the French action film “Sleepless Night” (2010), German crime thriller “Who Am I?” (2014) and Indonesian action movie “The Raid” (2011).
I just started two movie lists on IMDb: “Good U.S. remakes of foreign films” and “Terrible U.S. remakes of good foreign films.”
Let me know if I’m missing any good examples.

Photos: Movie posters for “Secret in Their Eyes” (2015) and “The Secret in Their Eyes” (2009).

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