Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Memory evokes manhunt in The Secret in Their Eyes

Posted By on Wed, May 19, 2010 at 8:40 PM

click to enlarge WINDOW TO THE SOUL: Ricardo Darín in 'The Secret in Their Eyes'
  • WINDOW TO THE SOUL: Ricardo Darín in 'The Secret in Their Eyes'

When Argentina’s The Secret in Their Eyes won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, most eyes were on Germany’s The White Ribbon or France’s A Prophet to collect the prize. Eyes’ success, like Departures the year before, suggests that Academy voters tend to support more conventional, reassuring films than A Prophet’s prison drama or White Ribbon’s stark, misanthropic vision of German history.

Don’t look to The Secret in Their Eyes for a feel-good movie, though. Juan Jose Campanella’s tale of criminal justice and memory only looks humanistic alongside its grim competitors. The first scenes sandbag the audience’s false sense of security. Retired federal justice agent Benjamín Espósito (Ricardo Darin) struggles to write the opening of a novel, but the cloying, sentimental scenes of a young wife and husband give way to the shocking image of the woman’s rape and murder. Espósito tries to use fiction to make sense of a crime he investigated 25 years earlier, and the film crosscuts between his literary efforts in 2000 with the details of the case in 1974.

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(Photo Courtesy Maria Antolini/Sony Pictures Classics)

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