A beautifully tragic tale of how a violent crime
ripples through the lives around it, realised through wonderful direction and
When it was
announced at last years Academy Awards ceremony that neither The White Ribbon
nor A Prophet had won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film it was something of a
shock. That was until people gawped at the staggering The Secret In Their Eyes.
Part of the reason that Eyes is such a
worthy winner is it is never just one thing but many, without ever losing sight
of its end goals and achieving them in the most heartbreaking ways possible.
(Darin) is a retired legal counselor
who is trying to write a book about a case that still haunts him. Seeking out
his old boss Liliana (Quevedo) to
help him clarify a few details of the case, they rekindle an emotional
relationship while trying to find a conclusion to a rape murder case that was
never satisfactorily put to rest.
On its surface
Eyes is a crime thriller, in the vein of a whodunit, but it refuses to conform
to such an easy pigeonhole. That the killer is caught and found guilty half way
through the film is just one example of this. Instead it flits from genre to genre while keeping the audience firmly
hooked with fascinating characters and an emotional core that will have you
expressing every sentiment in your power in its under two hour running time.
Campenella infuses the film with a glorious golden hue that manages to create
an almost dreamlike state. Even a deeply
brutal crime scene takes on an air of tragic tranquility thanks to Campenella’s
languid camera and sound-design, which allows us to be effortlessly seduced
into Benjamin’s instant attraction to the murdered victim. While it might
sound sordid, and something that only a David Lynch could pull off in a macabre
manner, Campenella creates possibly the most romantic interaction with a corpse
in cinematic history. Furthermore, he is
not shy of a visual flourish but, crucially, only when it is warranted. One
example that sets a benchmark for shot of the year is as we sweep down from the
heavens which gradually settle on a football stadium before finding our
protagonists nestled in a sell-out crowd. It is done with such brilliance your
jaw barely has time to hit the ground before you are intimately back in the
story. Michael Bay could learn a thing
or two from such methods.
The script is so richly layered that the themes on
offer manage to quietly seep into the sub-conscious rather than be spelt out. In fact there is so much going on, from
ideas of memory, nostalgia, missed opportunity and revenge, it would be easy to
lose track of story lines but at not point is this the case. Instead everything fits like a perfect
tower of Jenga, the script never leaves one thread shaking in the breeze and
keeps them all balanced in harmony.
Quevedo, as the
one that got away in Benjamin’s life, pulls off that rare thing, in more
mainstream cinema, of being a female with more gumption and self-confidence
than her male counterparts. Guillermo Francella, as Benjamin’s best friend and
colleague, is a delightfully flawed alcoholic who has just a hint of Sherlock
Holmes qualities going in the way he cracks the case. Pablo Rago stuns in the
role of Morales, the husband of the murdered woman, and it is through him that
many of the most emotional threads are pulled on. His desperation that his
wife’s killer be caught culminates in a tragic series of waiting at a train
station in the hope he might see him. Throughout the running time you care for
this character so much, despite him often being on the periphery of the story,
that as the climax approaches you find yourself clinging onto hope that he is
happy. In the lead role of Benjamin, Darin
is never anything less than captivating. With the most piercing eyes he
conveys a range of emotions through little more than a look. That you find
yourself investing so much in this man’s quest and journey allows Eyes to seep
into your very soul thanks to Darin’s performance.
harrowing and never anything less than beautiful to behold The Secret In Their
Eyes is a film that fully deserves Oscar’s accolades. Every scene bubbles with an underlying tension and emotion, every
character demands your attention and every shot serves a very distinct purpose.
This is as close to a master-class in filmmaking as you are likely to see. With a bold, deeply shattering climax that
still manages to be uplifting The Secret In Their Eyes is a film to stare at
for as long as possible.