Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Secret in Their Eyes

The Secret in Their Eyes won the 2010 Oscar for best foreign language film. It is a 2009 co-production between Argentina and Spain, set in Eva Peron's Argentina, which was immortalized by Andrew Lloyd Webber in Evita. Directed by Juan José Campanella and based on Eduardo Sacheri's novel La Pregunta de Sus Ojos.

This film is a twisted journey through time, beginning with a lonely retired federal investigator; Esposito, (Ricardo Darin), who is haunted by the twenty-five year old rape and murder of a beautiful young woman. Apparently the crime was solved but justice was thwarted in Eva Peron's corrupt Argentina. By writing a novel about the case; Esposito struggles to find closure. He hopes to make sense of his life.

He seeks out his former boss; District Attorney Irene Menéndez-Hastings (Soledad Villamil). He has been in love with her for years and she him, but that secret remains in the glassy margent of their eyes. (To misquote Shakespeare)

When he tells her what he is doing, writing a novel, she gets him the old Olivetti typewriter he worked on years ago. Old like him. It is missing the 'A'. As she says, his handwriting is unreadable. Alone, in the night, he writes on a sheet of note paper; I fear. Perhaps he is like the mountain climber afraid to go forward because he has looked down into his past, at where he has come from and so he is afraid to go forward. He is stuck.

The film flashes between the past and the present, the crime and the aftermath. For all the characters, time essentially stands still for 25 years.

The young husband of the murdered woman; Ricardo Morales (Pablo Rago) does not give up when the case is initially closed, watching and waiting to catch the killer. Esposito and he become close. Esposito has never seen such love for a woman. Morales says he was terrified at first to ask the beautiful woman who was to be his wife out. Esposito is similarly paralyzed by fear. He has let the opportunities for happiness and love with Hastings fall by the wayside. He writes in his notebook; I fear.

After the murder, Morales contemplates a future without his wife as a life full of nothing. Esposito, too sees his life without love as having been full of nothing as well.

Esposito's partner; Pablo Sandoval (Guillermo Francellais) a self-destructive drunk who is nevertheless a good cop, figures out where to find the murderer by enlisting the regulars from his bar as experts. Letters are decoded and the hunt is on. The movie is about passion, Men's passions, be it love, alcohol or in the case of a climatic chase scene wonderfully wrought in a soccer stadium, soccer.

The dead? Their final chapters have been written, but what about the detective on the hunt for the killer of a young woman, the killer who escaped justice, the grieving husband, the D.A. Their final chapters are yet to be written.

In the climatic scene Esposito sees how people are imprisoned by the choices they make and that is when he realizes the life he has been living has been one of fear and confinement. On his notepad, he adds the missing 'A' to I fear which in Spanish, in this film, translates to I love. He walks away from his prison. He has been set free. He has the courage to finally love, the passion.

The film starts slowly and quietly and rolls on a wave to its magnificent conclusion. Great acting, directing and writing.

Rating ****

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