THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES
Director: Juan José Campanella
Cast: Richardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago, Javier Godino, Guillermo Francella, José Luis Gioia
MPAA Rating: (for a rape scene, violent images, some graphic nudity and language)
Running Time: 2:07
Release Date: 4/16/10 (limited); 4/23/10 (wider)
Review by Mark Dujsik | April 22, 2010
are two recalled moments early on in The
Secret of their Eyes (El secreto de
sus ojos). They are ordinary,
everyday scenes, remembered over twenty years later by a man who directly
experienced one of them and knew of the other through another man's story. Even though the second is part of a different man's life, the man has
lived through it himself, in his own way, on his own terms.
first scene opens the film. A woman
stands on a train platform; a man is boarding a train. The camera lingers on her eyes and on his steps, while the rest of the
motion of the world blurs around them. The
train departs, and she chases after it. Their
hands reach out to each other, blocked by the window.
second scene he remembers is of a young, married couple sitting down for
reason both scenes strike the man enough to consider them for the start of a
novel he has decided to write is that they are endings of a life once lived. The man on the train does not see the woman again for 25
years. The man at breakfast never sees his wife again, as she was brutally
murdered later that day.
man trying to write the book is Benjamín Esposito (Ricardo Darín), formerly an
agent in a criminal court in Buenos Aires and now retired. He has returned to the city after decades living away from it and visits
his old co-worker Irene (Soledad Villamil), now a judge. Esposito tells her he wants to write a novel about the murder of the
young wife. Irene lends him the
office's old typewriter, and they laugh about how the "a" is still
broken on it. Their meeting has the
unmistakable familiarity of people who have worked together for years, know how
the other thinks, and genuinely care for each other.
is also filled with regret, as this is the first time they have seen each other
in over two decades. There was once
the possibility of a romantic relationship between the two of them, something
they both wanted but never found the way to say out loud. Life, as it has a tendency to do, got in the
way. She is now married and has been for nearly as long as he's been away from
Buenos Aires, which is not a coincidence, although Esposito is still stuck in
the mindset of the man he was back—one who never thought he had a chance with
her and hence never tried. He does
not consider how the timing worked out and what that might mean about her
feelings for him.
murder of the young wife who made breakfast for her husband one morning and was
dead by dinner, Esposito tells Irene, has been on his mind recently, and he
wants to write about it. He doesn't
know how to begin, so she suggests he write what he remembers the most. Esposito has been writing that, but he cannot tell her that his most
vivid memory is of seeing her for what he believed was the last time.
is the background for the film's story, written by director Juan José
Campanella and Eduardo Sacheri, based on Sacheri's novel. It is told with the pinpoint precision of man concerned not with the
specific details of a criminal investigation but with the effects of the crime
on those involved. It is not about
the "what" but why this particular case of the countless he handled
before retiring has troubled Esposito a quarter of a century after the crime was
remembers how adamant he was to not take the case and how seeing the woman's
body, naked and bloody, half on a bed and half on the floor, instantly changed
his mind. He remembers with fondness
the office's clerk Pablo (Guillermo Francella), who spent more time in the local
bar than at his desk. After too much
to drink, Esposito would routinely bring Pablo to his own apartment, the drunken
clerk's wife always saying it was the last time she would tolerate her husband's
remembers the murdered woman's husband Morales (Pablo Rago), a man so devoted to
his wife that he tells Esposito he is trapped in the memory of their last
breakfast together. When Esposito
goes through her old photo albums, he notices one man (Javier Godino) always
looking at her with longing. Esposito
tells Morales this is their man, and when word gets to the suspect, he
disappears. From then on, Morales
sits at the train station every day after work, waiting for the day that his
wife's killer gets off a train to return to the city. He once left work on his lunch breaks to watch "The Three
Stooges" with her, and this is what his life has become.
though, he remember Irene, once a fresh-faced new employee at his office, now
older like he is. Like Morales'
final breakfast, Esposito is a man trapped in a moment.
investigation moves forward in spite of lack of usable evidence and the
disappearance of Esposito's lead suspect. Campanella
mounts an inspired, monumental one-take shot as Esposito and Pablo search for
the killer at a packed soccer stadium. The
camera flies in from the air into the crowd to the two investigators and through
the entire stadium as they chase the suspect.
story grows trickier once it appears to be ending, as politics and old grudges
come into play, and justice seemingly served becomes an even harder goal. A scene in an elevator in which the suspect wordlessly confronts Esposito
and Irene in an elevator and signals his victory over them is equally as intense
as the soccer field chase.
Copyright © 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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