When I sat myself down to watch this particular Argentinean thriller, I had no idea what to anticipate. I haven’t seen many Spanish films, not for disinterest in them, but simply because I haven’t gotten around to it. Like all foreign films, Spanish movies have their own themes and story-lines that you won’t pick-up on unless you know what to look for. I do not know what to look for. Be that as it may, just because I’m not a fanatic of this genre of film, doesn’t mean I am unable to analyze it.
The story takes place in two parts, the past and the present, as the main character, now an author, tries to write about a legal case that he supervised over twenty years ago. While over two decades apart, these time zones become once again connected, in truly upsetting ways. As Esposito, the central character, tries to put the pieces together involving a murder in the past, his older self tries to understand why it happened and what became of everyone afterwards.
The movie, directed by Juan Jose Campanella, is brilliant. The first 50 minutes or so I found to be a little slow, but this was well worth it, for the rest of the movie delivered everything I could have hoped for and powerful performances were released all around. There are some truly great scenes in this movie; sometimes films only have one or two, but we’re privileged to many. The revelatory moments towards the end of the film are quite extraordinary. What I found to be most uncanny about this particular movie, is the sense of moral ambiguity that gets played out. Lots of the characters in the film take place in questionable actions and you really get to see how the world is not just black and white, but in fact has many different shades of grey. Even the good guys are subject to question, for their morals are all put to the test in one way or the other.
The realism is another factor that deserves credit. Many movies have their heroes come out on top, and while I won’t say whether or not that happens in this film, I will mention that in actual life, the good guys don’t always win and the bad are allowed to run free. Sometimes you can’t win and simply have to accept your circumstances and try to move on.
As with almost every flick nowadays you need some sort of love story, only this on doesn’t feel so contrived. There’s the definite sense of feeling loss earlier, not having been able to say or do what you wanted and really, that’s not how one should live. One of the underlying themes of The Secret in Their Eyes is “seize the day!” or you could live for a very lonely twenty years before getting your shot again.
If you can, go and see this movie. The cinematography, dialogue, and overall screenplay are brilliant. The suspense is very real and after when the credits role, you won’t be sure who was in the right. Winner of Best Foreign Picture during the Academy Awards, The Secret in Their Eyes deserves such praise through and through.