The Secret in Their Eyes
I’ll never know the secret if you keep your eyes closed!

Theatrical Release Date: 04/23/2010 (USA)
Director: Juan José Campanella
Cast: Ricardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago, Javier Godino, Guillermo Francella

Thanks to its win for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, “The Secret in Their Eyes” is now getting released across the United States. This Argentinian film came out of nowhere to claim victory, like so many other Foreign Language Film winners, and might have ruined a few people’s Oscar predictions (it’s a category that requires voters to see ALL of the nominees, sadly that’s not the case for every award). However, more important is whether it warrants viewing by the public at large who are now finally getting a chance to see it for themselves.

Based on a novel by Eduardo Sacheri, the film fluctuates between 1999 and an investigation into the rape and murder of a young woman 25 years prior. Ricardo Darín plays the lead investigator, who has been haunted by the case and resulting consequences all this time, so much so that he is writing a book based on the events. He allows his former boss (Soledad Villamil) to read the draft and through reliving the past, they come to a new understanding of where they’ve landed in life and uncover a secret regarding the whole affair.

Although the final revelation of the film may be the biggest secret, what isn’t so hard to discover is the yearning and passion between Darín and Villamil that has stood the test of time. As the title partially alludes to, this “secret” is in their eyes and exudes from every pore of their bodies whenever the two are on-screen together. Both actors convey so many emotions and desires without having to say a word – it’s a chemistry so rarely seen in films anymore.

Adding to their fantastic performances are the efforts of Guillermo Francella, Pablo Rago and Javier Godino. Each play pivotal roles in the past and present and do so beautifully. Every character has been irreversibly touched by the events of 1974 and it’s a pleasure to see the film unfold (to a satisfying, if not altogether unsurprising, twist ending).

Bolstering the acting efforts is a remarkable job being done by the make-up and hair department. All of the actors play themselves in both time periods and I’m sure they did so with a far smaller budget than “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button“. While there isn’t any shocking example of physical change to the characters, I deem it quite effective by never taking away from the performances or the story. When you don’t really notice movie tricks, that’s when they work.

The manner in which the story is laid out is very much like a “Law & Order” episode and that’s no coincidence. Director Juan José Campanella was at the helm for a few of those very shows (specifically some “Special Victims Unit” and “Criminal Intent” episodes) and even took the reins on a couple chapters of “House”. His experience in those fields is obviously on display here and makes the storytelling methods easily relatable to American audiences (who aren’t, and shouldn’t be, put off by subtitles).

While I would have personally picked another nominee as Best Foreign Language Film at last year’s Oscar’s (“A Prophet“), I can definitely see why voters went this direction and readily recommend “The Secret in Their Eyes”, giving it a 3.5 out of 5.