An Entertaining, Oscar-Winning Detective Story From Argentina
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) is a law-enforcement procedural that most grownups will find emotionally engaging. The narrative involves two murders, but the movie also has elements of romance and humor. This exceptionally well-crafted film was written, directed and edited by Juan José Campanella, who managed to create a lot of dramatic tension. The story is set in Buenos Aires, and the dialogue is in Spanish. The DVD provides English subtitles.
Everything in The Secret in Their Eyes centers on recently retired criminal investigator Benjamín Esposito (Ricardo Darín). In about 1999 he's haunted by a rape and murder case he worked on 25 years earlier, and he decides to write a book about it. He renews his friendship with a judge, Irene Menéndez Hastings (Soledad Villamil), and it's clear these two are romantically attracted to each other. In flashbacks, the film shows events occurring when Esposito and his alcoholic coworker Pablo Sandoval (comic Guillermo Francella) were investigating the crime. Esposito is a moral man who gets caught up in a noirish web, and his experiences turn him melancholy.
The Secret in Their Eyes avoids clichés, and the narrative unveils a number of surprises. There are unexpected shifts in mood, but these are handled expertly. Probably the most memorable scene involves locating and chasing down a suspect in a jam-packed soccer stadium.
Director's Commentary and a Pair of Featurettes
The DVD containing The Secret in Their Eyes supplies an informative feature-length commentary by writer-director-editor Juan José Campanella. He speaks in Spanish, but English subtitles are provided. He characterizes the film as having two storylines: "a love story and a detective story." But he doesn't talk much about the plot, focusing instead on what he calls "the energy curve of the tones." He makes a lot of analogies between the movie and a piece of music. Toward the end of his commentary, Campanella points out that the film deliberately doesn't cover what Esposito does with the startling information he learns about the fate of a murderer in hopes that each viewer will ask the question: "What would I do?"
There are two featurettes on the DVD, but they are of only passing interest at best. One is a four-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, which doesn't do much other than give you a chance to see writer-director-editor Juan José Campanella. The other is the 10 1/2-minute "Casting The Secret in Their Eyes," which shows what appears to be footage from screen tests for six of the supporting roles.
Release Date: September 21, 2010
Total Runtime: 2 hours 9 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for a Rape Scene, Violent Images, Some Graphic Nudity and Language