20 June 2010
At the movies: The Secret in their Eyes.
This Argentine import came out of nowhere and shocked a large amount of the viewing public when it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film this year, beating out higher-profile nominees like A Prophet and The White Ribbon.
With its bifurcate time period and a willingness to keep scenes languid, the film isn’t exactly a breezy romp. But its combination of enduring mystery and off-kilter love story meshes together well, and audiences who’ve been digging The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (that would be, everyone- that film has legs like a Rockette or a Clydesdale) will find much here to enjoy and contemplate.
Recently retired judge Benjamin Esposito is trying to put his free time to use, writing a novel that springs from a tragic rape/murder case from several decades back in his career. It means going back through legal documentation, revisiting some of his own tragic moments, and reintroducing himself into the life of Irene, the love of his life, now a senior legal official herself.
Can he find the necessary inspiration to delve into the writing of his book? Can he finally crack the case that sat in the back of his mind for decades? And can he finally figure out what his feelings for Irene really are?
The shockingly reactionary politics that drive the film are problematic, especially because the look and feel of the film is spectacular, with a central mystery that tangles in a few unexpected ways. Stopping just short of endorsing violence for reckless eyeballing, this is a film that just wants to deal with how wounded souls deal with the passage of time, and its scenes are often masterfully constructed and pulled off well.
The central performances are great, and the structure, at times, feels like an early 80s giallo- full of meticulous composition and baroque stories. Worth your time, certainly, though you'll find that it's the peripheral glimpses into Argentine jurisprudence that resonate with the deepest mysteries.