“The Secret in Their Eyes,” by Argentinian director Juan Jose Campanella, came from behind such Oscar favorites as Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon” and Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet” to win the Academy Award for best foreign film last month. This came as no surprise to Argentinians, since it has been declared to be Argentina’s second-most popular film, based not on money, but on the actual number of people who have seen the movie.
Below, we have seven clips from the movie, each with its own separate heading. From the breakdown of the clips, it becomes obvious that there are two time lines at play. The younger selves of Ben (Ricardo Darn) and Irene (Soledad Villarni) appear in the first four clips (“Disposition,” “Not in Love,” “Old Lady” and “Three Stooges”). Their older selves appear in the clips “Take Me,” “Look in Their Eyes” and “Write About Case.”
In the movie, Ben is both an investigative prosecutor and a retiree now attempting to write a novel about a 20-year-old case which has had a marked impact on his life. We never know, from the clip, whether Irene is still actively working, but in her younger incarnation she was a judge and Ben’s boss.
The story is evidently not told in a linear fashion, but the thread running through the clips and probably through the whole movie is the connection between Ben and Irene. Involved in a pivotal case, in the past, separated by events, they have now reconnected either for the purpose of clarifying what went on, with this special case, 20 years ago, or more ostensibly to recapture that which was lost or rather never acted upon.
From the clips, one gets the sense that something is definitely percolating in that relationship, but equally certain is that a great deal has been left unsaid. Since words can’t or haven’t been spoken out loud, it will be up to the eyes to speak the words that long to be spoken.
At once a mystery, a romance and possibly more, “The Secret in Their Eyes” is sure to offer a tantalizing glimpse of Buenos Aires then and now as well as a fascinating exploration of memory and truth. Millions of Argentinians can’t possibly be wrong.
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