Ricardo Darin, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago, Javier Godino, Guillermo Francella
Juan Jose Campanella
Some of cinema’s greatest love stories have unfolded in turbulent times or against brutal barriers. Juan Jose Campanella’s Oscar clinching
The Secret In Their Eyes
from Argentina narrates the unconsummated passion between a criminal court investigator, Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin), and his attractive boss, judge Irene Menendez Hastings (Soledad Villamil). Their love remains deeply felt, but unsaid for 25 years, a politically disturbing and dictatorial period when a case of rape and killing of a pretty, young woman remains unsolved.
The narrative begins in the late 1990s when a retired Esposito plans to write a novel on the murder that takes place in 1974. Haunted for a quarter century by the messed-up case and moved by the emotional devastation of the victim’s banker husband, Ricardo Morales (Pablo Rago), Esposito renews his investigation, this time unofficially, for his book. This takes him to Hastings -- a meeting that rekindles their old flame -- and later, to Morales’ home, where a shocking revelation awaits him – and us viewers.
The film, despite its extremely well crafted flash-forward and flashback sequences, could have been shorter than its 127 minutes. Barring one gripping chase that ends on a crowded, brilliantly lit football stadium, the movie is not a conventional thriller. This is pleasing sometimes, but irritating at other times. Heavy on dialogue that is often repetitive and convoluted, Campanella’s work can be problematic for non-Spanish speaking audiences relying on subtitles. Scenes are heavy, long and wordy, but, yes, they do help us savour the sweetly subtle relationship between Benjamin and Irene, and details emerge in a way that is uncommon in contemporary cinema.