Sep 26 2010
The Secret in Their Eyes won the Best Foreign Film award at the 2010 Oscars. It starts off looking like a murder mystery as a retired lawyer(Ricardo Darin) starts penning a novel about a rape and murder case he and his superior(Soledad Villamil) worked on over 20 years ago. But as we learn more about the investigation and the feelings of the dead woman’s husband(Pablo Rago), it turns into a drama about unrequited love and unfulfilled promises.
The murder mystery doesn’t offer much. The clue leading to the murderer is a bit too easy and they way they actually apprehend him seems like too much of a coincidence. The chase at that location is superbly filmed and the interrogation at the police station is shocking to say the least but overall, the murder track is quite simplistic.
But we see that the investigation’s main job is to bring together Darin and Villamil. As he is constrained by his own feelings(its fun to see his reaction when his deputy, with no such shackles, it able to reel off a flattering line at Villamil) and her job and she yearns for him to step beyond those constraints and act on those feelings, there are a lot of unspoken emotions between them. And the emotions are just as strong when they meet so many years later. Darin is good but Villamil is exceptional in the way she uses her eyes to express her feelings, both when silently hoping in the past and when expressing her unrequited love in the present.
But eventually, the film is about loneliness. Its fascinating the way it makes all its important characters be hit by loneliness in one form or the other. Whether its the novelist ruing the love he missed years ago, the deputy forced to spend his nights at his friend’s place since his wife doesn’t let him in drunk or the husband whose wife was murdered soon after marriage, they are all living lives without the people most important to them and handling it in their own ways. The end conveys the pain of loneliness with a single line from a most unexpected character. And that line also conveys that what has transpired so far is a punishment that truly fits the crime.
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