The past is in the past, buried in time and fleeting away. But for former investigator Benjamin Esposito, he can’t move on without dragging with the past along. Now retired, he’s intent to write a fictionalized version of a rape and homicide case he was worked on. He asks his former boss, the American-schooled Irene Menéndez-Hastings, for advice, but she seems reluctant to unearth the 1974 case.
The victim is Liliana Colotto, a pretty 23 year-old schoolteacher. When Benjamin arrives at the crime scene, her corpse is naked, bruised and, thrown off from the bed. Had this occurred today, a swab of DNA might conveniently revealed the perpetrator. Instead, the best deduced estimation is that she probably knew the killer because there was no force-entry on the door. Eventually, a silly hunch breaks the case open. Among Liliana’s photographs, Benjamin notices a suspicious young man leering at the victim. What could possibly be the secret in his eyes?
In the midst of watching this Argentine movie, I asked myself if this is any better than your typical crime procedural TV drama. Based on the case alone, the film looked weak. The investigators are going by a gee-whiz guess. A suspect is apprehended without substantial evidence. I’d be more impressed with forensic proficiency and some old-school Holmes-style deduction.
However, as the film progressed, “The Secret of Their Eyes” proved to be a nuanced mystery breed. Oh, don’t be fooled. The seemingly inconspicuous screenplay is so intricately woven that when by the film’s end, you won’t realize how much you’ve been pulled in its web. I don’t think I have ever been impressed by a third act since “The Lives of Others.” If it isn’t perfection, then it’s pretty damn close.
It’s not that the other film parts are boring or unbearable. The ensemble are in fine form and there’s even a cinematic wow of a chase scene that takes place in a soccer stadium. But overall, the first two acts can be contemplative and tend to have lingering shots. But once you look back, they’re vital building blocks in providing the film’s powerful and resonant conclusion. And that’s pretty much the big secret on what my eyes can reveal. Give the film your patience – it’s worth it in the end.
This review is part of AROUND OF THE WORLD movie series.
“The Secret in Their Eyes” represents the country of Argentina.
José Luis Gioia
Based on the novel La Pregunta de Sus Ojos by
Written and directed by
Juan José Campanella