Surprise winner of this year’s “Best Foreign Language Film” at the oscars, Secret In Their Eyes is an Argentinian film about a retired man who decides to write a novel about events that have haunted him for the past twenty-five years.
Moving between the present day and the events he’s describing it deals with the case of a young woman who was raped and murdered and Espósito’s own investigation into who killed her, as well as the friendship that develops between him and her young widower.
The film is very easy to like. It combines a cast of colourful characters, great humour and engaging subject matter in a masterful way. The themes of regret and dealing with one’s past come through strongly as we see how the events of twenty-five years ago have shaped each of the characters in the present day.
Both Espósito and his unrequited love are brilliantly played by Ricardo Darín and Soledad Villamil respectively. They both have the challenge of playing two characters: their younger and older selves. One of the film’s strengths is in showing the viewer how the years have changed the two leads. The youthful vigour and determination of the past giving way to weariness and self-reflection in the future.
If I had one complaint about the movie it’s that it doesn’t make good enough use of its Argentinian setting. Where this to me remade into a Hollywood movie, not much would have to be changed beyond the translation from Spanish to English. It also gives little sense of how life has changed for the characters in twenty-five years. Buildings, technology, fashion, and so on all seem to have remained static in the world the characters inhabit.
However, neither of these things take away from the compelling and tragic story at the centre of the film. It’s easy to see why the academy was won over by a story so well told, acted and paced.