The Secret In Their Eyes

“Choose carefully. Memories are all we end up with. At least pick the nice ones.” — Ricardo Morales

Photo by Nico Chamorro Coscia on Unsplash

This is a remarkable film and a worthy recipient of the 2009 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It’s titled El Secreto Del Sus Ojos, which translated means The Secret In Their Eyes.

It’s refreshing to find an original story so well done. All the elements are there, intrigue, suspense, superb acting, underplayed romance…. and the tight surprise ending that both surprises and satisfies.

Of course I was “caught” in the opening moments of the film because it is about a writer. Or rather, it is about a man who 25 years ago went through a difficult experience and now that he was retired wants to write a novel about it in order to hopefully bring resolution to the pain of that unresolved matter.

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Benjamin Esposito (Richard Darin) is a detective who was once involved in trying to solve the brutal rape and murder of Liliana Coloto, a young man’s beautiful wife. The assailant is ultimately captured, but because of the corrupt government he is released in a relatively short time. This is Argentina 25 years previous and to the dismay of Esposito and his supervisor/department chief Irene Menendez-Hastings (Soledad Villamil) the case is closed by high authorities and cannot be re-opened, despite the obvious injustice.

The film is full of subtlety as well as suspense. The title is derived from Esposito’s efforts to identify potential killers from photos of all who have been associated with her in the past. In one of the photos he reads into the eyes of one man something more than just a look or glance at the beautiful innocent Coloto. This hunch gives direction to his investigation.

But the meaning of the title is multi-layered because there are also stories in the eyes of many other characters, including Esposito and his department chief who later becomes a judge and encourages him to write the story.

The manner in which the story is told strongly enhances the narrative and the suspense. The juxtapositions of present and past effectively reveal what happened, what was happening and the pain of life itself when things like this happen. All worked together to great effect. Esposito has been haunted all his life by the events of that moment in time, and by setting it down in print he hopes to slay the inner demon, find healing and release. I’m sure many a writer understands well this man’s quest.

The film is in Spanish with English subtitles.

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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