Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Movie Review: The Secret In Their Eyes (2010)

The Secret in Their Eyes (2010)
aka "El secreto de sus ojos" - Argentina (original title)

Director - Juan José Campanella
127 min; R
Spanish with English subtitles
Ricardo Darín – Benjamin Esposito
Soledad Villamil – Irene Hastings
Pablo Rago – Ricardo Morales
Javier Godino – Gomez

I’d like to start my brief review of The Secret in Their Eyes with a direct quote from Roger Ebert’s review:

"The Secret in Their Eyes" surprised many by winning the 2010 Academy Award for best foreign-language film. Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon," another considerable film, was thought to be the front-runner. The academy did a good thing when it reformed the foreign-language film voting, requiring all voters to see all five finalists. In 2009, with the Japanese winner "Departures," and again in 2010, the voters had an advantage over the rest of us. Who is to say if they were right? They voted as they felt, and in today's unhappy distribution scene, the Oscar means your chances of seeing this film are much increased. You won't regret it. This is a real movie, the kind they literally don't make very much anymore.”

(Full review here:

I have unfortunately not seen any of the other nominees from this category, but if the other films are even half the film that this turned out to be I hope to remedy this quickly.

To put it simply, my thoughts when the credits rolled was that this is one of the best films I have ever seen. I don’t know if it is in my ‘top 100’ or my ‘favorite of the year’ or whatever, and I’m not even thinking in those terms. I am simply saying this was a magnificent piece of art that left a great, lasting impression on me.

The film is in Spanish with English subtitles and I loved the way the original language really took on its’ own character throughout, with the actors speaking freely and fluidly as only the Spanish language allows. The chemistry between the entire cast was perfect and at no point did it ever feel as though I was watching a movie, more so that I was eavesdropping on these people’s actual lives.

A quick plot summary is in order, so here we go:

Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darín) seeks out an old flame that was never meant to be, Irene Hastings (Soledad Villamil) who is now a powerful judge. He wants her opinion on a novel he intends to write about an unsolved murder case from 25 years ago that the two of them worked on, he as a lowly up and comer in the Argentine police department and she on the fast track to a more prominent life. The murdered woman is the young bride of Ricardo Morales (Pablo Rago) and though the corrupt police department attempt to arrest a few people on trumped up charges, Esposito has always suspected a man named Gomez (Javier Godino) was responsible for the brutal slaying. The film takes on a dual life between present day and 25 years ago, weaving a wonderful piece of fact, fantasy, regret, and absolution.

The film is stylistically beautiful in every way. There is an amazing chase scene inside a packed and wild football stadium in Argentina that will blow your mind. It doesn’t look like special effects were used, but you can’t imagine how it could be done without them. Wonderful shots by the director are incorporated that you don’t see coming, such as amazing views from crane mounted cameras high above the countryside. It is, of course, the people that make this film so wonderful, as much as the story leads itself to completion. The dialogue is witty and real, and emotions never feel contrived, but deeply personal. These are real people who have lived real lives and they speak and act like it. I’m not sure if I have ever walked out of a theater with such a wonderful appreciation for what film can do to someone on an emotional level.

***** out of 5

No comments: