Friday, January 14, 2011

The Secret in their Eyes

The Secrets in Their Eyes (aka El secreto de sus ojos) (Juan José Campanella, 2009) Argentinian film that won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.  It is difficult to say, after the fact, exactly what The Secret in Their Eyes actually is: is it fiction, deposition, fever dream, memory, fantasy, wish-fulfilment...any of them, all of them a bit.  And yet, it is a mystery with a conclusion, a love story with a happy ending, a character study, a psychological thriller—all of it.

It begins as a blur: a writer is trying to begin his novel...and begins it many times: a hazy, blurred separation of lovers at a departing train; the last memory of a woman soothing an ailment with tea and lemon; a brutal rape.  All facets of the story, but not one facet, above all.  The author, Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darín) a former legal counselor in retirement, is trying to write a novelization of a case that he can't shake for the life of him: what he calls the Morales case—the sexual assault and murder of Liliana Coloto (Carla Quevedo), new bride of Ricardo Morales (Pablo Rago).  It is a case that he got by default, but it haunts him: the way the girl appears crumpled at the crime scene, the devastation of the husband, the utter lack of clues—and that a rival counselor (Mariano Argento) has arrested and beaten a confession out of two construction workers who could not have been there at the time.  Determined to find the real killer, if only to bring peace to Morales, Esposito breaks a few rules, goes by his own instinct on the slimmest of leads, consequently landing him in hot water with his immediate superior Irene Menedez-Hastings (Soledad Villamil) and her boss.

That he is holding an unspoken love for her is only part of the complicated story, a facet.

At one point in the story it is observed that you can change anything about a person...but you can't change their passion.  And that's what The Secret in their Eyes is all about: passion.  Passions that define us, and might undo us.  For Esposito, passion is what drives him to write the story of this one case that led him to fear for his life and go into exile, the results of a deliberate miscarriage of justice that has nothing to do with passion, but only a cynical machination of wielding power to one's own ends.  His return to discover, to begin the investigation again and see it through to its inevitable all facets...drives the film along its complicated time-line, to a satisfying resolution.

But, the journey, and what it says about people...and passion...will haunt you for days.


The Mad Hatter said...

This film is criminally underexposed. Lovely piece, I'm gonna have to re-watch this one this weekend.

Yojimbo_5 said...

Time well spent. Certainly better than on something like The Green Hornet (review tomorrow)