The Secret In Their Eyes(2009)
The Secret in Their Eyes (Spanish: El secreto de sus ojos) is a 2009 Argentine-Spanish crime drama film produced, edited, and directed by Juan José Campanella from a screenplay by Campanella and Eduardo Sacheri, and based on Sacheri's 2005 novel La pregunta de sus ojos. It stars Ricardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago, Javier Godino, and Guillermo Francella. The film focuses on the relationship between judiciaries Benjamín Espósito (Darín) and Irene Hastings (Villamil) and their investigation into a murder case in 1970s Argentina.
The Secret in Their Eyes(2009)
Espósito finds a lead while looking at old photos of Liliana, which Ricardo gave him: many of them featured a man, identified as Isidoro Gómez, staring at her obsessively. Espósito and Sandóval sneak into Gómez's mother's house in Chivilcoy. During the break-in, they find some letters from Gómez to his mother. Sandóval steals them and Espósito finds out after returning to Buenos Aires. Their "visit" only causes them trouble with their higher-ups, and they are unable to find any evidence in the letters. Gómez is still on the loose due to a careless phone call from Ricardo to Gómez's mother, in a desperate quest for his wife's killer. Ultimately, the case is closed.
Since 1983 Argentina has maintained democracy as its ruling system: in that year Raúl Alfonsín was elected president and soon spoke out against the Argentinian junta's use of torture and death squads who spirited away "the disappeared" and killed them, hiding their bodies in unknown locations. In office, Alfonsín set about punishing police and troops who were responsible for unknown thousands of deaths in the so-called "dirty war". By 1985 the government had promoted the Trial of the Juntas, which prosecuted and condemned the men who were at the top of the military hierarchies during the country's last dictatorship, stopping short of prosecuting the other militars and civilians who were also responsible for the period's crimes.
El Secreto de Sus Ojos is one of the greatest movies of all time regardless of country of origin. This is the kind of movie that inspires the viewer to look inward and analyze their life. Unmissable.
Winner of Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de sus Ojos) is an ingeniously crafted mystery thriller from Argentina that grabs the viewers attention from the beginning, keeps their gaze firmly transfixed on the screen with its gripping plot, quality direction & compelling characters, and is one of the finest offerings in world cinema today that deserves a much broader audience.
"The Secret in Their Eyes" opens with the meeting, after many years, of Benjamin (Ricardo Darin) and Irene (Soledad Villamil). She is a judge. He is a retired criminal investigator. They are just a little too happy to see each other. Twenty-five years ago, when she was assistant to a judge and he was an investigator under her, they were involved in a brutal case of rape and murder. Benjamin visited the crime scene, and the dead woman's corpse spoke eloquently of the crime's brutality. Two workmen were arrested and convicted. Benjamin was never convinced of their guilt. Now he tells Irene that on his own time he wants to write about the case.
This commences an absorbing back and forth journey through time, between Buenos Aires in 1974 and 2000, which reopens both the crime and the unacknowledged feeling that has remained all these years between Irene and Benjamin. That's where their personal appeal comes into play. The actress Soledad Villamil is, forgive me, my idea of a woman. Grown-up, tallish, healthy, brunette, sane and perhaps she was cast for her eyes, because the film contains a lot of closeups, and they're required to conceal secrets. Think of Anne Archer. Playing Irene at ages 25 years apart, she is never too young or too old, but standing right there.
Juan Jose Campanella is the writer-director, and here is a man who creates a complete, engrossing, lovingly crafted film. He is filled with his stories. "The Secret in Their Eyes" is a rebuke to formula screenplays. We grow to know the characters, and the story pays due respect to their complexities and needs. There is always the sense that they exist in the now and not at some point along a predetermined continuum. Sometimes I watch a film unspool like a tape measure, and I can sense how far we are from the end. Sometimes my imagination is led to live right along with it.
Benjamin Esposito is a justice officer and together with his partner Pablo Sandoval they prosecute people. Recently, their department has hired a new chief, a young woman by the name of Irene Hastings.
But The Secret in Their Eyes suggests that healing is possible for those who put their past to bed and go on, choosing love over fear and anger. And that is powerfully driven home through the parting images of one particular character who, unable to bury his grudge, becomes chained to misery and hatred.
Campanella's experience of working on tight TV dramas such as Law And Order: SVU is put to good use, with the crime and thriller aspects of the plot levened by a rich vein of humour, largely presented through Benjamin's subordinate - in more ways than one - colleague Pablo (Guillermo Francella). Much of the joy of this film is found in Campanella's ability to continually change tack. Despite the shifting periods and the fact that he never uses obvious techniques, such as dates on newspapers or title cards, we always know exactly where we are thanks to clever evocation of time and place. His ability to move from comedy to tragedy in little more than a beat, meanwhile, makes for a gripping plot and also helps his characters and situations feel utterly believable. Crucially, we quickly come to care about all of these people and their secrets.
It is not just in the character and scripting departments that Campanella excels, however, he also manages the impressive feat of showing both restraint and flair in terms of visuals. His measured approach to scene composition allows the actors - all superb - to shine at their best, while a sequence in which he takes his camera swooping down into a soccer stadium is nothing short of exhilarating.
Cambridge University Press & Assessment acknowledges, celebrates and respects the Boonwurrung People of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Custodians of the land onwhich our office in Australia stands. We pay our respects to their ancestors, elders and emerging leaders and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nationsof this land, and whose cultures are among the oldest continuing in human history.
A Spanish 500 Days of Summer mixed with a more urban and up to date You've Got Mail. I liked this film a lot. I connected with both the main characters in the film. Their feelings of loneliness on the inside, yet, still going on with their day to day all while being mixed with their phobias, longings, quarks, and vulnerabilities. This movie works, it works on every level. Beautifully shot and beautifully written. Watching this will not be a waste of your time.
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The camera flies on towards the stadium. Closer, lower, until we can see the players themselves. It zooms over their heads as they clash upon the bright green pitch. In a bravura display of camerawork and CGI that beggars belief we fly over the goal, over the lower stands, over the cheering, singing jumping crowds.
Shuffling towards each other through the throng, the vertiginous view disorientating both them and us, we hear: they have been at this for a long time. They have attended game after game after game, combing the endless crowds for their quarry, all to no avail. On the verge of giving up, just then they spot a man a few rows down, to the left. Convinced, they sidle down towards him and grab him by the shoulder, furious vindication in their voices as they pronounce his name. But the man turns and it is not who they seek. Disconsolate and deflated they start to leave.
This film provides examples of: The Alcoholic: Sandoval's main defect, which ruins an otherwise charismatic and delightful man.
All for Nothing: Esposito spent decades in hiding in Jujuy in fear of Gomez, only to find out that his "pursuer" had been imprisoned by Morales for all that time. This makes him realize that he wasted all this time and that he should have been with Irene.
Almost Kiss: Esposito and Hastings almost kiss when they part at the train station, but Esposito hesitates, and they only touch faces.
Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: Irene is very much in love with Benjamin, but his obsession with the case has always kept them apart. She spends the movie trapped in the trope until Benjamin finally climbs out of the funk... 25 years later.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Oh, boy. The main focus of the movie is to solve the gruesome rape and murder of Liliana. The correct term to describe the scene and her body is " shockingly and grievously battered".
Blood Knight: He may not look the part, but Pablo makes it clear that bar brawls are a passion of his.
Break Them by Talking: Happens twice: Irene taunts and emasculates Gomez in order for him to confess to Liliana's rape and murder.
Benjamin has to scamper away to Jujuy under the threats of Gomez and remains a quarter of a century away from Buenos Aires thinking that Gomez is still at large, only to find out that Ricardo kidnapped and imprisoned him not shortly after Benjamin's flight. Unencumbered from the fear for his life, Benjamin is finally able to pursue a relationship with Irene.
But Not Too Foreign: Irene is a Cornell graduate of Scottish descent. She's an Argentinian through and through, but she's very high in the social strata (specially compared to Benjamin).
By "No", I Mean "Yes": After Benjamin and Pablo flee the house of Gomez's grandmother and are driving away, Benjamin asks Pablo if he took the letters they found. Pablo denies it, and then after a beat, responds, "And what if I had?"
Can't Get Away with Nuthin': This is basically the film's tagline and it permeates every character's arc: Benjamin becomes a target of the dictatorship even when his plight has nothing to do with a political stance; he is kept on a leash because of a number of things including being of low social stature due to being an orphan, being the subordinate of a woman, trying to prosecute a case where a member of the Secret Police is the perpetrator, being constantly berated by Pablo's wife in spite of not being responsible for his friend's alcoholism, and trying to break and enter the perp's mother's home. The dude never gets a break.
Irene is constantly pining for Benjamin, but the guy never takes a step forward; she scampers him out of Buenos Aires when his life is in danger, but he never once considers taking her with him, and he constantly brings up the case in spite of it basically destroying their sense of security, haunting them for the remainder of their lives up to that point.
Gomez thinks he is above the law when Irene and Benjamin are unable to prosecute him due to him being part of the Secret Police, but he's certainly not impervious to an irate mourning husband that kidnaps him and keeps him prisoner for the rest of his life
Pablo's alcoholism eventually gets the better of him, and a final drunk escapade is what finally brings him to Benjamin's apartment, where he found his death at the hands of the Secret Police
Conveniently an Orphan: Subverted. Benjamin was a ward of the state, a fact that is used to belittle him and his pretensions towards his position and Irene in particular.
Cowboy Cop: Esposito is a deconstruction: his insubordination to the dictatorship forces him to flee the city as a marked man, leaving the love of his life behind.
The Determinator: Esposito is not likely to let the case go. Nor is Ricardo, naturally.
Fan Disservice: There are two instances of nudity in the film. One is of a woman being raped, and is later seen dead, bloodied and bruised. The second is the rapist showing off his penis, finally confessing.
Fate Worse than Death: Invoked by Morales. Morales manages to kidnap and lock Gomez up for twenty-five years, not even speaking to him and evidently making him Go Mad from the Isolation.
Foreshadowing: Sandoval points out that the perp has been incredibly elusive and somehow has always been aware that the feds are looking for him; turns out that Gomez is a hitman for the Feds and the dictatorship, so he's in the loop.
Good Old Ways: Esposito prefers to use a typewriter (and even manually) as opposed to a word processor. In fact, no computers are seen in the movie.
Hate Sink: Romano doesn't do much to endear himself to the audience.
Heroic BSoD: Benjamin, when he sees Liliana's battered body for the first time. He almost cries with anguish. Benjamin again, after seeing Pablo's dead body.
Heroic Sacrifice: Pablo, according Benjamin's speculation.
I Am Spartacus: Benjamin speculates that Pablo passed himself as Benjamin when the secret police came knocking doors and asking names, thus providing Benjamin with the opportunity to escape being chased.
I Just Want to Be Loved: Irene could have gotten so much out of Benjamin love-wise if he just shut his mouth about the damn case... but he just has to bring it up every time. In the end, they do end up together.
The Jailer: Morales has locked Gomez up for twenty-five years as a punishment for murdering his wife.
Jerkass: The kindest coherent way of describing Gomez and Romano.
Male Frontal Nudity: Gomez shows his penis to Hastings to demonstrate his masculinity.
Meaningful Name: In Benjamin Esposito's case, "Esposito" (or Exposito) is a blanket Spanish last name given to foster children and it means that either he is an orphan or his father didn't recognize him; either way, it means that he was a ward of the state, which is why he's lower in the social strata than Irene.
Mood Whiplash: Benjamin is engaging in some amusing banter before walking into the murder scene, with no transitionary shot.
My Greatest Failure: Benjamin has spent 25 years remorseful of not catching Gomez; however, in the end he learns that Morales has exacted a brutal retribution on Gomez, making him nope! the hell out of there and move on with his life.
Not So Above It All: From the letters they stole from Gomez' home, Pablo is able to deduce that even when he's very good at covering his tracks, Gomez cannot deny being a fan of CA Racing de Avellaneda, a fact that practically bleeds through his writing. Pablo and Benjamin even attend four games (which could be between 2 weeks or 1 month of stakeout) before they're able to find Gomez.
Gomez plays the innocent part to perfection until Irene starts emasculating him in order to provoke him; she touches a nerve, sending him off the rails.
Morales tells Benjamin that he shouldn't keep dwelling and revisiting the past; he tells him so because Morales himself hasn't been able to do so by dedicating his life to imprison Gomez, much to the contrary of Benjamin's assumption... Morales was coping a little too well for comfort, Benjamin found out.
The Oner: A truly impressive one that starts high in the air, shot from a helicopter approaching a soccer stadium where a game is being played, pans over the players and zooms in on the crowd where Esposito and Sandoval are trying to find the suspect which they do right as a goal is converted and the crowd goes mad, causing them to lose him which in turns gives place to a chase scene through the inside of the stadium, up and down several levels of passages and staircases, inside a bathroom and back out, and eventually back out onto the playing field, where the suspect is finally captured. The whole scene lasts over five minutes.
Open Secret: Irene is very obviously in love with Benjamin, but he has always considered himself too low for her.
Plot Armor: Invoked and subverted. Irene is too socially affluent for the Secret Police to make her disappear without raising hell, so she assures Benjamin that she is safe from Romano and Gomez; she later admonishes Benjamin for not reading into her situation and fleeing without her, arguing that her life was in threat too regardless (though she has long forgiven him for the slight).
Police State: The story takes place in 1970's Argentina, which was under a military dictatorship. Though not obvious in sight, there were plainclothes federal teams dedicated to disappearing, torturing and executing dissidents of the regime; Gomez is part of one of these teams, which is why he walks scot-free from his rape/murder charge.
Politically Correct History: Subverted. The story takes place during the "Dirty War" in Argentina (ca. 1974-1983) in which the dictatorship financed anti-communist groups to execute dissidents and carry out terrorists acts with carte-blanche regardless of connections with communism. Benjamin finds out that Gomez is part of one of these groups, making Gomez legally untouchable and turning Benjamin into a target.
Popular History: Subverted. The movie is markedly historically accurate. One of the points made is that CA Racing had been champions of Argentina in 1966 and had a 9 year drought when the story takes place. It would be Harsher in Hindsight for Gomez to know that Racing wouldn't be champions of Argentina until 2001.
Precision F-Strike: The characters swear a lot, albeit in Spanish.
Psycho for Hire: Gomez.
Rape as Drama: Starts off the film, and haunts the victim's husband and the investigator for years.
Rule of Symbolism: The typewriter: It has foreshadowing, as it types "z" when "a" is pressed, symbolizing the fact that the story had actually ended almost 25 years before, close to when it began.
It mirrors Benjamin stubbornly clinging to the case.
It also mirrors Morales' raison d'etre with complete lack of closure as to his wife's death, as he's been actively exacting revenge upon Gomez for decades on end.
Running Gag: A couple: There is a typewriter at the office that types "z" when "a" is pressed. This comes up at least four times in the story.
Benjamin taking Pablo to his house when he's piss drunk only to be rebuked by Pablo's wife; she even blames Benjamin at one point.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Benjamin finally finds out that Ricardo has kept Gomez imprisoned in his ranch for 25 years and realizes what that amount of time can do to a man who hasn't found solace. He realizes that he loves Irene and goes to tell her so; she reciprocates and they finally move on.
Smug Snake: Romano.
Stalker with a Crush: Gomez.
Star-Crossed Lovers: Benjamin and Irene. When Benjamin (who is fleeing Buenos Aires) asks Irene "What the hell am I gonna do in Jujuy", he's meaning to tell her "What the hell am I gonna do without you?".
Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Irene.
Train-Station Goodbye: Starts with a Window Love and then the protagonist's lover is chasing the train down the platform.
Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: A frighteningly smug Gome