THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (El secreto de sus ojos, Arg., 2009)


 Greetings again from the darkness. I was a bit miffed when this film beat out both A Prophet and The White Ribbon for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2010 Academy Awards. Since then, I have been anxious to see this “upset” winner. It is with great pleasure that I state my faith in the Academy voters is restored. This is a staggeringly wonderful film!

Based on the novel by Eduardo Sachesi, it is written and directed by Juan Jose Campanella, who also directed Argentina’s 2001 Oscar entry Son of the Bride. Mr. Campanella also has quite a resume of U.S. television in addition to his film work. What really stands out in “Secret” is the multitude of story lines and character development, none of which are cheated … yet each which could have carried their own as a film. This is terrific film-making with rare balance between comedic dialogue, a full-fledged crime drama, unrequited love and nasty politics.

The excellent script is helped along with fine acting by the key players: Ricardo Darin as Esposito, Soledad Villamil as Irene, Guillermo Francella as Sandoval, Pablo Rago as Morales, and Javier Godino as Gomez. Each actor has physical features that play well with the film’s title.

I certainly don’t wish to give away much of the substance of the film, but it mostly revolves around the investigation by Esposito and Sandoval into the brutal rape and murder of Morales’ young, beautiful wife. Esposito works for Irene and they have “eyes” for each other, and Gomez is the key suspect despite all the political maneuvering designed to throw the investigators off track.

There are a few outstanding scenes and two of my favorites were an incredibly intense elevator ride, and a fascinating crowd scene at a soccer/futbol game (including the year’s best single, long take). As you might guess, there are innumerable close-ups for a clear eye-level shot and the film bounces back and forth between 1974 and 2000, so we must adjust to the weak make-up.

For anyone who enjoys fine film-making and isn’t afraid of 2 plus hours of subtitles, you will surely be satisfied and impressed at the quality of this film.

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