The Secret In Their Eyes

I really enjoyed the film. But I feel that it might be too late to bring a fresh perspective or opinion to the film. I mean IMDB lists over 200 external reviews not to mention the User Reviews. After reading a great many of these reviews – it’s like where to start – what to say – does any one care?

Nevertheless, I have decided to go forth with my review for The Secret In Their Eyes. It’s not going to be easy to be creative but let me try something.  I’ve  got some notes about the film that I was going to send  in an email to the person who suggested that I have a look at the film for the purposes of a) enjoying it, and b) reviewing it. Looking over my notes, I think that will probably work.

At minimum it is worth a shot – there are enough notes to make it at least readable.

The film was quite complex in that Director Juan Jose Campanella balanced a number of different story lines within the context of the past and the present – as the brutal rape/murder, which is the root of the story occurred twenty five years ago.

  • The aging and unsettled, now retired, homicide investigator still haunted by the case twenty five years later –
  • His never stated affection for the judge – and how he missed the obvious signals she sent him even within the framework of their professional relationship –
  • Solving the murder case – or at least coming up with a theory based on the victim’s family photos –
  • His friendship with the other detective – the drunkard – and the dismaying cost of their friendship –
  • Writing the novel – and intercutting scenes from the novel into scenes in the film –
  • Figuring out what the murdered wife’s husband did or didn’t do –
  • And all of this within the context of Argentina’s evolving political atmosphere which changed drastically at that time from the Peron era to an ultra right wing country, where justice existed only to satisfy, and at the whim of the powerful –

That is a lot of story lines or threads to be woven into a coherent whole. I think, he did an excellent job keeping us involved and aware of where we were story-wise as well as where we were time-wise.

That is, after the opening trick of the train departure being a scene within the novel he was writing, before we knew he was writing a novel, rather than of the film itself.

The film was slow in spots, as well as slow to start, which is very European. The director often chose to show not tell, so paying attention is a requisite of watching the film. But if you do, the rewards are sublime.

You might come away thinking that the film wasn’t visually stimulating. You’d be right but only some of the time, for there were many EXCEPTIONS like the occasional shots from high up in the court house,

or the many expressive facial close-ups, and a breath-taking tour-de-force scene which began in the sky and ended with a chase in the bowels of the soccer stadium, up and down steps, around corners, without a cut to be found.

Simply – to start six hundred yards out, and 500 feet high above the soccer stadium and then to slowly come down and hover above the action on the soccer field, following the action up the field right through the on goal shot just missing and caroming off the cross bar with the camera following the ball as it rebounds high into the air. Then, with the camera’s view (our perspective) taking us high up into the stands and arriving right next to the detectives who were there to hopefully spot the suspect, and were just two of the thousands and thousands spectators within the huge stadium, was simply as good as it can get. It was a once in a lifetime shot, and will be discussed for years.

It was amazing – to say the least. But the magic of cinema is as much about the story as it is about the visuals. The script penned by Campanella and Eduardo Sacheri was an adoption of Sacheri’s novel, doesn’t disappoint.

I was especially pleased with Ricardo Darin as Benjamin Esposito, the homicide investigator, as well as Soledad Villamil who portrayed the Judge Irene Menedez Hastings. I had not seen either before this film.

Yes, I can clearly see why this film won the 2010 Oscar as Best Foreign Language Film. Even though it took me almost a year to see this film after it won the Oscar, I’m very glad I did see it. Available on Netflix.

Thanks again.

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3 thoughts on “The Secret In Their Eyes

  1. Oh, how I loved this film. Ricardo Darin and Soledad Villamil are the best & great to look at; the story is complex and compelling; but most of all it’s just incredibly beautifully filmed. I was just captivated by those amazing shots that keep you guessing about where the story will go next.

    Fantastic!

  2. Thank you didion. This was a special film, and you are exactly right about how the screenplay kept you guessing. The twists and turns were very plausible and simply were executed brilliantly. I think I shall watch this one again, quite soon.

    I especially loved how they kept bringing in the old and recalcitrant typewriter with the “A” key not working. It was like a talisman against the evil of the murder, the misdirected justice, and the frailty of the human experience.

    My review of No One Killed Jessica comes next.

    jmm

  3. Pingback: “XXY” (2007): gender/sex mashup « Feminéma

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