'Secret in Their Eyes': Haunting Tale
One of the more interesting films I’ve seen this year was the one from Argentina that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, "The Secret in Their Eyes."
Although I usually prefer fare that has a larger social message, this story is so well-crafted I found myself thoroughly engrossed, and thinking about all that I had seen and heard long after I left the theater.
The film is part murder mystery and part love story, both of which are artfully portrayed. The story is not told in a linear fashion, but jumps around between the past, present and future, adding to the complications of the mystery.
Benjamin Esposito (played by Ricardo Darín), an ex-criminal court investigator who remains, into retirement, obsessed with a case that was never solved, the murder of a lovely young woman. (Do not bring the children, as the film has some graphic scenes relating to her murder. The violence is never gratuitous, however, but integral to the story.)
Esposito is deeply moved by the grief of the woman’s husband, Ricardo Morales (played by Pablo Rago), and the two become close with their mutual obsession to find and punish the killer.
Early in the film, Esposito sees a picture of the victim at a party, and notices a look in someone else’s eyes in the picture which causes him to suspect that man of being her murderer. His pursuit of the case costs him greatly in both his personal and professional life.
Unable to solve the case while in office, in his retirement, Esposito decides to write a novel based on the case. But even late in life, he can’t shake the notion that there’s something more he can do to ensure justice is ultimately done.
During the investigatory period, Esposito works with his former boss and eventual judge Irene (played by Soledad Villamil). Esposito, Irene, and an interesting and hilarious character named Sandoval (played by Guillermo Francella) together attempt to buck a judicial system rigged too much in favor of easy crime solutions as opposed to actual justice.
It’s clear early on that Irene has deep feelings for Esposito. Esposito’s feelings, however, are quite a bit more complicated, and become entwined with the central mystery of the film.
The film’s strength lies in three main areas: story, direction and the acting. The story, based on a novel by Eduardo Sacheri, was remarkably suspenseful and unpredictable, a welcome relief from the typical Hollywood formula fare. And the script is laced with wonderful moments of humor, as well.
You can feel the assured hand of writer-director Juan José Campanella in the ways scenes are constructed and shot. And the actors commit fully to their very diverse characters. You feel like you’ve met these people, and come to care about them as the film moves along.
The film is, in many ways and on many levels, about the costs of passion. The passion of the killer for the girl, the passion of the girl’s ex-husband who is determined to get justice for the horrific crime, the passion of Esposito for the case, and the passion of Irene for Esposito.
Don’t be put off by the fact that the film is subtitled. This one is well worth your attention, time, and money.
Lisa Pease is a historian and writer who specializes in the mysteries of the John F. Kennedy era. She is also a movie buff.
To comment at Consortiumblog, click here. (To make a blog comment about this or other stories, you can use your normal e-mail address and password. Ignore the prompt for a Google account.) To comment to us by e-mail, click here. To donate so we can continue reporting and publishing stories like the one you just read, click here.
Back to Home Page