The Secret in Their Eyes

The Secret in Their Eyes or alternatively El Secreto de Sus Ojos, is an au courant piece from the depths of the steadily rising new Argentine cinema. Directed by U.S Drama House veteran Juan José Campanella in 2009 and based on Eduardo Sacheri’s novel La Pregunta de Sus Ojos, this masterful production went on to snatch the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film at last year’s Oscars, amidst some of the stiffest competition from the likes of the seminal Un prophéte. However Campanella s murder mystery noir encapsulates and propels everything that is so magical about world cinema, so much so that it fully warrants the same attention and accolades as all of its competition. The Secret formula to this film is its vision and unique ability to take the best of everything else and subject it to a cinematic blender that only produces results of perfection. Campanella as a director rivals any other with this offering, as it is the closest to directorial precision as one can witness within contemporary cinema whether it be from Hollywood or Buenos Aires.

The Second biggest heavyweight to this production is the genius of Ricardo Darén’s central performance as the principal protagonist Federal justice agent, Benjami­n Espésito. Darén being Argentina’s most infamous TV/Film actor and even more recently the lead in the upcoming Carancho in this year’s London Film Festival, surpasses his export criteria to deliver a performance that can only be said to rival any of De Niros or Pacinos. Set in 1970 s Argentina but told through flashbacks, Daré­n’s Espésito confides in his colleague and lawyer friend Irene Menéndez-Hastings ( played by a brilliant Soledad Villamil) about a particular unsolved murder case that has tainted his life throughout his career, in which he is trying to  finally come to terms with in his retirement.  As a result of this obsession, the film unravels the multi-layered and deep seeded history of this particular case and the impact it had on everyone involved and more.

Only since the likes of Fincher’s Zodiac or Niels Arden Oplev’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, have I witnessed a more complex, intricate, intelligent and perfectly tempered investigation piece, that has the ability to completely sustain your intrigue while taking you on a journey through epic personal discoveries that lead to political corruption, acts of disgusting horror, reflections on the morals and ethics of law and the power of subjective philosophy and ultimately one the of the coolest chase scenes in cinema history, a scene that was continuously filmed for 15 minutes and took over a year to plan culminating something that you can only be in sheer awe of. This film lacks nothing and offers everything, it is humble, comical, truly frightening, enthralling, exciting, contemplative, philosophical, horrific and all together conveyed with such passion from both actors, story and direction alike that the emotional infrastructure will affect any viewer unless you are made of stone.

The Secret in Their Eyes, once again completes it for me that foreign cinema, yes having to read those pesky subtitles can rival if not sh** on anything Hollywood can conjure up with all its fiscal strings. It is a slow, intelligently paced, unraveling mysterious film that is really only for people who care for artistic and intelligent storytelling. If you’re after a quick fix linear ‘he loves her’ or ‘good cop bad cop’ then you re in the wrong place. However, if you want to embark on a true journey and experience cinemas remarkable ability to bring stories to life and force them to engage you in an unforgettable way then this might just be worth a look.

The Secret in Their Eyes trailer

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