"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Sunday, October 3, 2010

DVD Review: El Secreto De Sus Ojos (The Secret in their Eyes)

El Secreto De Sus Ojos (The Secret in their Eyes) is a fascinating film, one that spans over 25 years, telling a story about murder, justice and unrequited love.  The film won the Oscar for the Best Foreign Film this year and rightfully so.  The rules for the Best Foreign Film Oscar are such that every voter must see the films they are voting on before making their decision.  Therefore most often than not, the best film ends up winning.  Very unlike the Best Picture of the year which sometimes becomes a competition in favoritism and populism.  This year, it beat out two other very fine films, Un Prophete and Das Weise Band and it's easy to see why.  El Secreto De Sus Ojos is about very good storytelling and as the title suggests, it all in the eyes.

In 1974 Buenos Aires, Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Davin) is a criminal investigator who is assigned to a case of rape and murder of recently married Liliana Colotto.  He and his partner Sandoval (Guillermo Francella) become obsessed with catching the killer as another corrupt rival tries to pin the murder on two innocent workers.  They finally pinpoint a suspect and spend a lot of time trying to track him down.  So does the husband of Liliana, Ricardo Morales, who becomes fixated with getting justice for his wife's murder.  Helping Esposito and Sandoval is the Irene Menendez Hastings (Soledad Villamil), an assistant to the judge and their superior; she is later instrumental in helping catch the killer.

But as everyone involved in the saga comes to know that things don't turn out the way you might have hoped.  Due the crooked politics of Argentina (at the time), the killer, Gomez, is out and free and does the dirty work for the government.  It comes as a slap in the face for everyone who worked so hard to bring justice about for Liliana.

Back to 2000 Buenos Aires, where Irene is now a judge and Benjamin is newly retired.  They meet after many years and he tells her of his plans to write a novel based on the Morales case.  He hasn't been able to forget it even after all these years.  They talk of the past and are skittish about discussing the future.  There is a lot of unspoken thoughts between the two of them and it's all in their eyes, their hurt, their regret and their longing.

I'm not even hinting at what the ending is but it definitely brought me closure and had me thinking about what exactly justice should be.  Should the punishment fit the crime?  The movie brings up some terrific questions.  El Secreto De Sus Ojos had me absorbed in from the beginning thanks to the fine acting of the leads.  The direction was perfect and executed so well across the decades it takes to tell Benjamin and Irene's story.

And there is this one shot that leaves me absolutely astounded, it's a long take for about 5 minutes that goes from aerial view of the stadium to tracking the football players on the ground, to the fans in the huge stadium and finally to the detective duo of Esposito and Sandoval high in the stands.  How did they do it?  You'll simply have watch to see it.

Directed and Edited by Juan Jose Campanella, Cinematography by Felix Monti, Written by Eduardo Sacheri and Juan Jose Campanella (Based on Sacheri's novel)


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