Thursday, 27 May 2010
FILM REVIEW: THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES
Much like the Japanese film Departures caused an upset by winning the 2008 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Argentina's The Secret in Their Eyes beat out more acclaimed rivals A Prophet and The White Ribbon to do so this year. And much like I was surprisingly moved by Departures, I found myself seduced by the Argentine film.
Set in both 1999 and 1974, Juan Jose Campanella's film is about memory and how one can never really let go of the past, for better or worse. And about passion, for try as we may, we can never give up that which we truly love.
As a court investigator in 1974, Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin) worked a case involving the brutal rape and murder of a school teacher. Now newly retired, Esposito reflects back on those events as he writes a novel chronicling the case.
This also reawakens emotions he had for Irene Menendez Hastings (Soledad Villamil), a younger woman who was his superior at the time and whom he could not reveal his true feelings for. Darin and Villamil are wonderful together and both play their younger and older selves. You can decipher which part of the story you are in by the colour of Esposito's hair: black in 1974, grey in 1999.
Touching also is Pablo Rago as Ricardo Morales, the widower who spends his time away from the office waiting at train stations hoping to see the man suspected of murdering his wife. That's Isidoro Gomez (Javier Godino), who knew the school teacher when they were younger, and there is a brilliant sequence in the film, in what looks like one take, where Gomez is arrested at a soccer match by Esposito and his partner, Pablo Sandoval (Guillermo Francella).
Based on a novel by Eduardo Sacheri, The Secret In Their Eyes unfolds much like one as it shifts between past and present. But Campanella has made it very much a cinematic experience, relying a lot on what is unspoken and focusing, understandably, on the eyes of his characters which reveal far more than they could ever say.
It's been a good year for foreign language films - the aforementioned A Prophet and The White Ribbon, the French film Welcome, and the very popular Swedish thriller The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – and we're not quite halfway. Add The Secret in Their Eyes to that list as well as to your 'must-see' list.