Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Secret In Their eyes

"You know I don't speak Spanish."

An investigator revisits two pieces of unfinished business that have haunted him through his career and into his retirement.

I was a bit disappointed the first time The Secret In Their Eyes (El Secreto De Sus Ojos) came through town and I wasn't able (read: "was out voted when I tried to") see before it was gone again. However, one of the -admittedly few- great things about the Academy Awards is that the winners tend to do a victory lap after taking home a statue- the industries way of capitalizing on the added notoriety. As this movie won Best Foreign Language, I got a second bite at the apple- and OH what a delicious apple it was.

Frankly I'm not sure where to begin... or end... or middle... Am I allowed to just scream at the top of my lungs that anyone who even slightly enjoys movies needs to see this film? Would that be enough, if I promise never to do it again? ...OK, fine... I'll try to flesh this out a bit.

The Secret In Their Eyes is Juan Jose Campenalla's (he wrote and directed) adaptation of Eduardo Sacheri's novel La Pregunta De Sus Ojos (The Question In Their Eyes). I admit freely that I haven't read the novel, though if my Spanish were better I'd certainly be in (it's gotten pretty good this last year but it's still nowhere near novel ready). His execution with pen and camera is polished smooth. The brightest comedy and the darkest drama all flow together with no ado or pauses for affect.

The story is one of being haunted. Haunted by the horrible things one can see in their life, and haunted by the regrets that a life can garner. The darkest sort of crime is put juxtaposed with as "simple" a problem as feelings never shared. Somehow each feels both compelling and, at times, debilitating. The truth of how much weight each sort of haunting can have is played subtly but effectively here. Maybe that's a good sum up of the movie: subtle but effective.

Campanella's fixation on the eyes of his characters sounds like a gimic but blends just as evenly as every other piece of the whole. By the time you realize your looking directly into them, the characters face has already left the screen. And yet, not unlike the Peter Jackson's personification of the Ring in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, each pair of eyes feels like it's bringing it's own story to the screen. There are multiple points in the movie where a character's gaze quite literally replaces the lines that might have been said. This is an effect that is intentionally executed on the part of both director and the superb cast- led by Soledad Villamil and Ricardo Darin.

To keep this short, I'll just say that perfection is a word I try to avoid in my reviews. But occasionally the temptation does arise. Movies like The Secret In Their Eyes represent, to me, the moments when I get reminded why I love movies so much. They're a break from looking for the bright spots in shallow under takings. Breaks when we, the watchers, can let loose the full fury of our expectations and be repaid in utter satisfaction.

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