The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)
Ricardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago, Javier Godino, Guillermo Francella / Fiction / Spanish
A glossy, thoroughly satisfying whodunnit – winner of the 2010 Foreign Language Oscar®.
Careworn ex-detective Benjamin is trying to write his novel. Instead, he keeps being drawn back to an unsolved case from his earlier career: the horrible rape and murder of a young woman. Something in the original investigation just didn’t add up… Beautifully performed and directed, with twists and turns that grip the nerves and the imagination, this is a wonderfully engaging work from the director of The Son of the Bride (EIFF 2002).
#1/ Sunday 27 June, 2010 / 00:55 GMTWith the previous two Best Foreign Film Oscars going to films that I thought were good rather than great, I was beginning to fear that the Academy Awards were losing their discernment. No worries though, for they got this one spot on – easily the best film of the dozen or so that I saw this Festival, and probably the best film I will see this year. This is truly outstanding film-making that, like its’ title, keeps you guessing, and works on a number of different levels - whose eyes contain the secret; the victim, the killer or the lovers?
Content-wise, it broadly covers the nature of justice, in a plot that is slightly reminiscent of ‘A Very Long Engagement’ – a convoluted whodunit, played out over a long time period. But it’s also about the nature of memory, and how effective or not it is, with a number of sequences that play on this uncertainty – did it really happen, or is it just in the imagination of the character?
#2 / Sunday 27 June, 2010 / 00:56 GMT(continued from above)
Whilst the mystery element of the film is rich and engrossing in itself, it shines even brighter in the love story. The Director manages to create a brilliant chemistry between the two leads, with their age-ing captured to perfection and providing an immediate reference point for the viewer to help make sense as the narratives moves seamlessly back and forth, sweeping through time.
Yet another level involves the injection of a quite deliberate and playful humour, most obvious in the wry banter between the main character and his assistant. On each level, a certain amount is left unsaid and unexplained, and is all the more satisfying for it, leaving you thinking about it for long afterwards. There’s even the inclusion of some ambitious cinematography (the football match sequence particularly stands out), and the classical score is beautifully-judged, simultaneously wistful and melancholic, fitting the piece like the proverbial glove.
This is highly accomplished film-making in a class of its’ own, and I am very much looking forward to seeing it again in a couple of years time once my own recollection of it has started to fade. A modern day classic. 9/10
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