It’s the year 2000, Buenos Aires, Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin – Nine Queens), disillusioned, retired investigator is obsessed with a 1974 unsolved murder and decides to write a book about it. This gives him the pretext to contact his former boss Irene Menendez Hastings (Soledad Villamil) a woman he has secretly loved since they worked together in the 70s. Examining the cold case together memories come back to them of the context of that first investigation in a junta-controlled paranoid Argentina.
For Benjamin it felt impossible for him to voice his feelings towards his boss at the time because of the difference in their status and class. Yet as the two people unravel the case that might have been mishandled because of the politics of the time, the emotional charge between them speaks of a possible escape from loneliness. At the same time the investigation reveals Benjamin’s failings in the past and the present. Mesmerising performances from the two leads.
When this noirish thriller won the 2010 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, there was a lot of muttering, surely the award should have gone to Hanneke’s White Ribbon or A Prophet. In recent years The Academy has changed the voting system for the foreign film category, requiring all voters to see all five finalists (a minimum requirement one would have thought). The result has been surprising films with charisma have won (Departures 2009 and Secret in their Eyes 2010), rather than a win for a big name director or a perhaps a politically correct choice, however better crafted those films might be.
Juan Jose Campanello, better known for his work in American TVs House and Law and Order, does a fantastic job in Secret in Their Eyes. As writer /director he gives us an absorbing, intricate story masterfully splicing the different time frames, creating characters and relationships the audience cares about and capturing a chilling sense of time and place. The camera work stands out as well, particularly the stunning travelling shot in the football stadium which has left critics guessing how it was done while applauding the artistic panache. This isn’t a worthy film or a Hanneke, Wajda or Lynch masterclass in direction, its simply hugely enjoyable – a rare thing these days.
Juan Jose Campanella is the writer-director, and here is a man who creates a complete, engrossing, lovingly crafted film. The Secret in Their Eyes is a rebuke to formula screenplays. Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
A supremely watchable, well-made and well-acted movie with a dark, sinewy sense of history a tremendously slick thriller. Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Campanella uses the twin genres of the thriller and the romance, as well as twin narratives of punishment eluded and love unfulfilled, to give vividly palatable form to his themes of memory, justice and loss. Anton Bitel film4.com
Awards 34 wins including 2010, Academy Awards USA, Best Foreign Language Film 2010, . )Z 6Sr.6bTuqojE1 v.3GX_J nDxTwxtT1T)6