Sunday, August 07, 2011
#174: The Secret in Their Eyes
Juan Jose Campanella, a bright talent to emerge out of Latin America is best known for his being nominated twice for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars in the last ten years. His latest nomination in 2009 secured him the best foreign film with the Secret in Their Eyes, a crime thriller spanning an extensive 25 years centered around the life of an Argentine cop Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin).
The movie begins with Esposito, now retired, wishing to write a memoir of the time when he was dealing with the murder of the beautiful wife of Ricardo Morales (Pablo Rago). The murder that was preceded by a brutal rape leaves Ricardo stunned and practically inert towards his daily chores. The only assurance he has from Esposito is that whenever the criminal is captured, he will be sentenced for life. Esposito's best friend, a perennially drunk colleague Sandoval (Guillermo Francella) is his best bet in an office where their boss is always out to humiliate the two. Over the course of the next twelve months, Esposito also earns a friend in Judge Irene (Soledad Vilamil) and Sandoval and he catch hold of the perpetrator of the heinous crime. All is not however hunky dory as the criminal manages to earn an official posting as a security officer within the ranks of the Argentine police.
There is no doubting that The Secret in Their Eyes has a most arresting first half an hour. As the narrative jumps back and forth from the past to the present, you are hooked to the on-screen action about to unfold. Ricardo Darin leads the top notch performances put in by the cast members and the languid air in a crime thriller is unsettling for a viewer in a good way. Where the writers (Eduardo Sacheri along with Campenella) skillfully introduce to us the first clue of the Isodoro Gomez (Javier Godino) being the criminal is not a scene that is outright convincing but something about the ease with which it is presented allows you to voluntarily forgive the transgression. The photography is nearly flawless with Felix Monti presenting a wonderful canvas of emotions on-screen in it's most delectable form and the same could be said about the haunting score. The only place where it failed to touch a chord were the parts where some of the twists in the story seemed too impractical to be true. They don't exactly jar you because these moments were few and far in between but they were liberties exercised by the writers nonetheless.
The Secret in Their Eyes is the most successful Argentine film ever and gives credence to the theory that great filmmaking is no longer the duopoly of Hollywood or Europe. Campanella nowadays spends his time working on American TV series' such as Law and Order and 30 Rock but it would be mighty surprising if we don't see him more often on the world stage in the future for his films that have a visual style and narrative that I found to be universally and unilaterally appealing. He is too precious to be wasted on American TV and the Secret in Their Eyes is an irrefutable proof of that.