SECRET IN THEIR EYES, THE (EL SECRETO DE SUS OJOS) (director/writer: Juan Jose Campanella; screenwriter: based on the novel “La pregunta de sus ojos” by Eduardo Sacheri; cinematographer: Félix Monti; editor: Juan Jose Campanella; music: Federico Jusid/Emilio Kauderer; cast: Ricardo Darin (Benjamin Esposito), Soledad Villamil (Irene MenendezHastings), Guillermo Francella (Pablo Sandoval), Pablo Rago (Morales), Javier Godino (Gomez), Jose Luis Gioia (Baez) Carla Quevedo (Liliana Coloto); Runtime: 129; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Carolina Urbieta/Mariela Besuievski/Juan Jose Campanella; Sony Pictures Classics; 2009-Argentina-in Spanish with English subtitles)
“Though intelligently presented, it never reached my heart.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
It was the winner of the 2010 Best Foreign Film Oscar (Don’t ask me why?). Director/writer Juan Jose Campanella (“Son of the Bride”)ambitiously aims for this glossy conventional murder mystery to be politically insightful about the perversion of justice, have something relevant to say about frustrated love and the loss of a loved one, leave us with thoughts about memories playing with the truth, and be a puzzler that blends romanticism with realism. Campanella has helmed American TV procedurals like House and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.It’s a pic that is well-crafted but hardly touching. It’sbased on the novel “La pregunta de sus ojos” by Eduardo Sacheri.
The plot centers around retired criminal court investigator Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin) writing a novel, on an old typewriter, that’s based on a twenty-five year rape and murder case in 1974, in Buenos Aires. The case remains unresolved and still haunts Benjamin. He enlists the help of his former boss, now a judge, Irene MenendezHastings (Soledad Villamil), for whom he still has a crush on and never acted upon that feeling because the now married dreamboat of his life is from the upper-class with a law degree from Cornell, so much younger and he’s only a working stiff with a high school education. But Benjamin still sees something in her eyes that tells him she has a special feeling for him, but like before they both can’t express the true yearnings they have for each other.
The film goes into details through the decades of how Benjamin and his alcoholic but loyal colleague Pablo Sandoval (Guillermo Francella) originally handled the brutal rape/murder caseof the beautiful Liliana Coloto, the 23-year-old school teacher who recently married bank teller Morales (Pablo Rago) and had an ideal marriage. Through Benjamin’s intuition, the police nab the punky suspect, Gomez (Javier Godino), at a soccer match a year later after the case was closed. But the country’s military dictatorship forced sweeping political changes and the suspect was freed to serve as a spy for the government.
When all is said and done, the psychological thriller seemed facile and the director didn’t have it in him to infuse the crime of passion mystery story with an endearing fantasy love story as Preminger did with his 1944 film noir Laura. Though intelligently presented, it never reached my heart.
REVIEWED ON 6/16/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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