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The Secret in Their Eyes

~Academy Award for the Best Foreign Film 2010~

The most astounding shot in The Secret In Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos) arrives exactly at the middle of the film: From the sky above Buenos Aires, the camera vertiginously swoops down on a bustling soccer stadium during a match, settling on two investigators in the cheering throng as they chase down a murder suspect through the stands, across the field – even into the bathroom – without a single visible cut. You can imagine Alfred Hitchcock, Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese studying the five-minute sequence frame-by-frame, trying to figure out exactly how Argentine writer-director Juan José Campanella (Son Of The Bride) pulled it off. The movie is never quite that showy again, but it doesn’t need to be. The pyrotechnics in The Secret In Their Eyes , the surprise winner of the 2009 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race, are of a more quiet, haunting nature. Based on the novel by Eduardo Sacheri, The Secret In Their Eyes flits back and forth between 1999 and 1974. The recently retired criminal-court investigator Benjamin (Ricardo Darín), still haunted by the unsolved rape and murder of a young woman 25 years earlier, decides to invest his energy into writing a novel about the case. When he visits his former supervisor Irene (Soledad Villamil), now a judge, to tell her about his plans, the unspoken mutual attraction is instantly obvious. Through the use of extended flashbacks, The Secret In Their Eyes alternates between the past, in which Benjamin and his alcoholic partner Sandoval (comedian Guillermo Francella) investigate the crime and battle a corrupt bureaucracy, and the present, in which the retiree decides he won’t be able to rest until he solves the case. Linking the stories is the romantic tango between Benjamin and Irene, played out mostly across their faces and eyes instead of through dialogue. They are kept apart by class and social status, but the heart does not understand such things, and the attraction lingers. Although it is structured like a thriller, and its plot dominated by Benjamin’s detective work, The Secret In Their Eyes is really a cautionary tale about the consequences of a life of too much apprehension and propriety. ‘How do you live an empty life?’ Benjamin asks near the movie’s end. ‘How do you live a life that is filled with nothing?’ The hopeful answer is you can’t – but it’s never too late to fix things. – Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald
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Directed by: 
Juan José Campanella
Running Time: 
Argentina, Spain
Ricardo Darin, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago, Javier Godino
Screenplay by: 
Juan José Campanella, Eduardo Sacheri

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