- 13 Aug 10
A tremendously entertaining and tautly delivered crossover arthouse flick
Juan José Campanella’s Oscar winning crime drama opens with retired federal justice agent Benjamín Espósito (Darín) composing some overly purple prose for the Novel He Has Always Wanted To Write. The film starts as it means to go on; The Secret In Their Eyes may be thoroughly engaging for its opening 90 minutes but nobody could claim it’s subtle.
Told largely in flashback, this enjoyable Argentine thriller concerns a cold case that has continued to haunt our hero into his golden years; in 1974, the younger Benjamin headed up an investigation into the brutal rape and murder of Liliana, a young, recently married schoolteacher. The protagonist and his team soon finger the likely culprit but Peronist Party corruption and Argentina’s Dirty War prevent a prosecution thus leaving Liliana’s widowed bank clerk husband (Rago) in perpetual mourning.
For most of the film’s running time, The Secret In Their Eyes is tremendously entertaining and tautly delivered. Sadly, for every splendid set piece – a chase scene through the home ground of Buenos Aires’ Racing Club F.C. is a particular highlight – there are at least two instances of clumsy movie grammar. A gloopy romance used to bookend the enterprise is wholly unconvincing. And the aura of bad daytime soap sits badly within Mr. Campanella’s commendably sweary, macho universe.
Only the Academy could have favoured such unevenness over Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon, which lost out to The Secret In Their Eyes in this year’s Foreign Language category. Still, as crossover arthouse hits go, this Argentinean offering sure beats the hell out of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.