The Secret in their Eyes
Starring Soledad Villamil, Ricardo Darin, and Pablo Rago
Directed by Juan Jose Campanella
Rated R for a rape scene, violent images, some graphic nudity, and language
Spanish with English subtitles
This winner of the 2009 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film tells the story of an Argentinean Federal Agent that returns to the city he used to work in so that he can write a book about a rape/murder case he worked on that was never truly solved and brought to justice many years earlier. As he begins to unravel the clues of what he had previously uncovered mixed with new findings, he discovers secrets and revelations that could be even more enlightening and disturbing.
As with any year of Oscar-nominated foreign films, many of them you don’t get to see until the middle of the next year so you can’t gauge how something could have beat out a film that you thought was far superior. In this case, I was in awe that this film beat The White Ribbon, which I thought to an amazing contender from Germany. But sure enough, this film proves itself as a worthy enough contestant with quality at all levels.
First and foremost is terrific script that twists and turns and really keeps you guessing throughout. It’s just over two hours long, but keeps your brain busy the entire length wondering what is going to happen next and what each subtle clue really means.
And most of those subtle clues come from very fine acting by an extremely talented cast. While you may not know any of the faces or names, that won’t matter because the performances will blow you away.
And here is something you won’t hear me say often, but the slow, methodical pacing makes the film that much better. Campanella has made a fine career of directing American television shows such as House, SVU and 30 Rock, but given the reigns of a suspense thriller such as this, he proves himself to be a master. That slowness of pacing he employees allows your brain to run through scenarios, figure things out, get things wrong, and fully appreciate the art being put on screen.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the haunting piano-heavy score by Federico Jusid and Emilio Kauderer. Had it been available widely to voters towards the end of 2009, we might have seen some tougher competition for Michael Giacchino’s Up during the awards season.
Finally, I have to admit that I’m a sucker for a great ending and this ending will shake you to the core and leave you questioning your own morality and sense of justice in the process. A