This Argentinean gem comes to Australia with a modicum of celebrity, having won the Best Foreign Film Oscar over such favourites as The White Ribbon and A Prophet. And while this makes for an interesting post-cinema debate, so does the film itself, for writer/director Juan José Campanella presents Eduardo Sacheri's novel as an enticing, gorgeously rendered memory, one that lingers long after the credits roll.
The story oscillates between 1999 and 1974, as retired criminal court investigator Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darín) looks back over his career in an attempt to novelise the case that effectively ruined it all. Seeking counsel from his former colleague and unrequited love, Irene Hastings (Soledad Villamil), the two stir up some sleeping dogs as they piece together their memories of a hideous rape/murder case that they never once discussed in the intervening 25 years. Darín and Villamil compellingly straddle the two eras, filling in the decades with more than just good make up, while cinematographer Félix Monti conjures a stunningly subjective atmosphere with his evocative framing and focus. Indeed, Monti’s superlative photography in a football stadium scene is alone worthy of its own review.
Though the titular metaphor becomes a bit laboured at times, The Secret in Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos) has such emotional and visual depth that it's nigh impossible not to get swept up in Esposito's epic tale. Dryly humourous, impossibly tense and achingly ardent in turn, Campanella's journey down memory lane makes for unforgettable cinema.
Published on Concrete Playground
Australian release date: 27 May 2010