Movie Review: The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)
The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)
Director: Juan José Campanella
Cast: Ricardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago
Synopsis: A legal counselor endeavours to gather enough evidence to prosecute a suspected rapist and murderer.
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Ricardo Darin plays some kind of legal type – repeatedly referred to as counsellor, which seemed to antagonise him for some reason – I was never absolutely sure of what his position was. Anyway, his name is Esposito, and he’s some kind of prosecuting investigator, trying to gather enough evidence against a suspect to justify a trial. The suspect, a weasel named Gomez (Javier Godino), brutally raped and murdered the wife of Ricardo Morales (Pablo Rago). Through some painstaking investigative work undertaken with his reluctant – and alcoholic – colleague (Guillermo Francella), Esposito gets his man, only to see him released early into the ranks of the security service after providing them with useful information. Fearing for his life, Esposito has to flee his home.
For many films, it’s at this point that a game of cat-and-mouse would ensue, but The Secret in Their Eyes goes in a different direction. In many ways, the capture of Gomez is secondary to another plot strand – the love Esposito has for his pretty young boss, Irene Hastings (Soledad Villamil). Esposito’s enforced flight comes at a crucial point in his and Irene’s relationship when their mutual, unspoken attraction is about to be acknowledged by both. The film’s flashback structure revolves around this moment, when Esposito watches Irene chase after his departing train – all preceding incidents lead up to it, and all subsequent episodes arise as a result of it.
As the title suggests, the film is about secrets – all the characters have them – and the secrets are hidden passions which ultimately, irrevocably, determine the course of each character’s life. There is more that goes unspoken – and yet is still revealed in other, more subtle ways – hence the reference to people’s eyes. Entire conversations take place in which the real meaning of what is being said is concealed beneath the words spoken by the characters, and it’s not often that a film rewards an active viewing in the way this one does.
Perhaps The Secret in Their Eyes only real fault is that the storyline is sometimes too far-fetched – almost to the point where it’s virtually impossible for the viewer to suspend disbelief. But it’s always gratifying to see a film into which into which its makers have put so much thought. There’s one virtuoso piece of filmmaking – the hunting of Gomez in a football stadium – that is quite stunning, even though it seems a little at odds with the rest of the story, as if it’s been implanted there from another, more kinetic, movie.
(Reviewed 20th December 2011)