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Under Review: ‘The Secret in Their Eyes’

— by MARIUSZ ZUBROWSKI —

It seems that the quality of thrillers has cheapened dramatically throughout the years. Since modern day crime capers frequently sport illogical plot twists and one-dimensional or clichéd protagonists, it’s refreshing to see a film like “The Secret in Their Eyes,” a murder mystery so majestically crafted in both character development, dialogue and story-telling that it never lets go of the audience’s attention throughout its two hour and seven minute running time.

The plot of the film is as follows: Set in 1999, “The Secret in Their Eyes” is told in the form of a flashback. As former federal justice agent, Benjamín Espósito, recalls the brutal rape and murder of a young woman for a novel he is writing. He also remembers that faithful June in 1974, where lies, deceit, of forbidden love ran rampant.

Critics have panned this Oscar-winning film for being “pseudo-art house.” It’s a shame these individuals neglected to see that Juan Jose Campanella’s sophomore picture is the very definition of art house — a film that relentlessly bombards the audience with sheer and uncompromising intellect and is unwithered by the pit-falls of large budgets and soulless computer-generated images.

But to add to the almost unstoppable momentum of this motion picture, Ricardo Darín lends a brilliant performance as Benjamin, a character that though sarcastic, has immense passion to his goal to finding young woman’s murderer (which is the movie’s central plot point).

It’s undeniably easy to be engrossed in the world of “The Secret in Their Eyes,” as the entire cast of characters are masterfully acted — adding cautious but effective amounts of humor, thus stopping the film’s departure to the realm of ultra-seriousness but maintaining its wit and dark atmosphere.

The final push to excellence stems from the film’s climax, which beautifully explains the plot as a whole while showcasing the sickening depravity of man once he has lost the ability to love.

I predicted “Ajami” would win at the Oscars, but obviously I was wrong. For the Academy, Campanella’s latest was a “winner in their eyes.” Having seen the film, it is safe to say that “The Secret in Their Eyes” is guilty of being a great piece of Argentinean cinema.

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Follow Mariusz Zubrowski on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ItsJustMariusz.

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