The Secret in Their Eyes (2010)

Directed by Juan Jose Campanella
Written by Eduardo Sacheri & Juan Jose Campanella

The Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars is a mystery every year. The selection process is partly to blame and the fact that release patterns for foreign films are always delayed in the US is another factor. But every year there seems to be one or two films nominated that many people have never heard of. And sometimes they win. Such was the case last year with The Secret in Their Eyes, a film from Argentina that surprised people by beating out other, better known films such as The White Ribbon and A Prophet. So the question becomes, did it deserve it over those two films. Well, film is subjective so that can’t really be determined. Did I like it better? No, no I didn’t, but it was still a very good film.

The film is about the rape and murder of a young woman by the name of Liliana. More specifically it follows Esposito, a deputy who is on the case to find the killer. After the case takes many twists and turns, Esposito is attached and obsessed with finding justice for Liliana and her widower, Morales. But the story is also about Esposito and his friendship with both Pablo Sandoval and Irene Hastings, coworkers of his at the hall of justice. The film is about Esposito, not Liliana or Morales, though the mystery of this case is the backdrop for an interesting crime drama.

The way the story is told is through a serious of flashbacks. Esposito is now old and he still has the case on his mind, so upon retirement he has decided to go back to Irene and ask if he can look at the case files and start to write a novel. He wishes to fictionalize his experience on the case for over 25 years. It becomes more than a who dunit; it becomes a love story, a struggle for the hearts and minds of these young men and women and how they grew old, or not, and grew apart, or not, from each other.

Really the editing is what makes this movie great. The piecing together of the mystery occurs right before our eyes and despite not being full of action, it is full of intrigue, if not of crime than of the heart and the art of regret and getting hung up on the past. Also, there is some dialogue that is beautifully written. It becomes poetic at times if not standard at others. But it all makes the experience worth it. It may not be the best foreign film from last year, it may not be the best of anything from any stand point, but all around the film is interesting, entertaining, and worth watching.

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