Film Review: THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES

Directed and Written by Juan Jose Campenella
Starring: Ricardo Darin, Soledad VIllami, Pablo Rago, Javin, Godino, Guillermo Francella
Released:  April 2010
Running Time: 129 minutes
Up to this point, the three best movies I’ve seen this summer are all foreign and all crime dramas. First there was the excellent Swedish, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Next came the superlative Australian film, The Square and now the quintessential combination of romance and crime, The Secret in Their Eyes (Argentina). All of these films are prime candidates for Hollywood remakes, but I pray that doesn’t happen. The lead actor in The Secret in Their Eyes, starred in another film that got a poor remake a few years back: Nine Queens. The Secret in Their Eyes (hate the title although it may make more sense in Spanish) won the Oscar for best foreign film this year, beating out The White Ribbon. I am not sure we’d be seeing this film otherwise and that would be a travesty.


PLOT: Benjamin (Ricardo Darin), now in retirement, has embarked on a project to write a novel about his most intriguing case, one that haunted him for years. In 1974-(it’s 1999 now) a young woman was raped and killed and Benjamin and his assistant were assigned briefly to the case. Manuscript in hand, he goes to see the woman who was his superior at the time, (Soledad Villamil) to validate his memory, to read his novel, and perhaps to see if romantic sparks still fly between them.

Much of the movie recounts the original investigation. Benjamin, and his alcoholic, comic and ultimately brilliant and brave assistant, (Guillermo Francella) are mesmerized and driven to keeping the case alive by respect for the grief of the woman’s young husband, Pablo Rago. But their investigation goes awry due to the corruption in both low and high places in Argentina. Benjamin’s superiors are all too eager to find a quick solution to the crime despite evidence that the two workers they beat and convict are innocent. Twenty-five years later, a resolution of both storylines-the romance and the criminal investigation take place.

This is a complicated story although very told well. It steers away from formulaic resolutions, following its own original path. Campanella, as writer and director, is not afraid to mix romance, humor and pathos in an exciting way. It’s lovely to look at too. Once again, I am going to say it: I can’t imagine anyone reading Crimespree Cinema or magazine will not love this film.

Patti
Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at http://www.pattinase.blogspot.com/. She hopes you’ll join in.