The One about Juan Jose Campanella’s “The Secret In Their Eyes” (El Secreto de sus ojos)

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When “The Secret in Their Eyes” won the Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language” film, before I watched the film, I was stunned. Could there be anything better than Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon”, Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani’s “Ajami” or even the film which I felt was the true contender Jacques Audiard “Un prophete”? Granted, I have not watched “The Secret in Their Eyes” and having watched the nominated films, these films were outstanding but there must be something about this film by Juan Jose Campanella that stood out.

So, I watched this film with the highest of expectations and by the final credits, I realized that “The Secret in Their Eyes” is not only deserving for its multiple-award winning accolades but for any fan of cinema, these are the type of films in which the cineaste yearns for, movie making at its best. And not to downplay the other films which were nominated because I enjoyed those films very much but “The Secret in Their Eyes” is one of those films that stays with you and you can’t help but feel that this is wonderful cinema, wonderful movie making devoid of banality and ennui. “The Secret in Their Eyes” is wonderful!

Juan Jose Campanella did a fantastic job in being the man guiding force of the film. Many Americans may be aware of his work through TV series such as “House M.D.” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” but before these TV series, he’s had success with films such as “Son of the Bride” and “Avellaneda’s Moon”. Campanella is a filmmaker who has a perfect grasp on suspense but also relationships.

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“The Secret in Their Eyes” is a two stories in one. Two people who were attracted to one another 25-years in the past, separated by tragedy and then being reunited once again many years later. But then we have the mystery, the murder case that has consumed the main character Benjamin, as well as the victim’s husband Ricardo. The corruption within the judicial system and no matter how Benjamin works hard to find the killer of this murder case back in 1974, the system works against him. But it’s that careful pacing, where you feel easy at times and then Campanella’s knows when to make the viewer feel uneasy and that something is not right. And this leads to a chilling discovery by the main character that was not only shocking but a realization that many of us were not prepared for and it works with tremendous efficacy.

The performances by Ricardo Darin, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago, Guillermo Francella were fantastic. Every scene was well-done and most of all well-captured by cinematographer Felix Monti. Not only do you have a well-written story but capable actors to make us believe. And a wonderful job goes to the makeup department that did a fantastic job in making the talent realistic for 1974 and 1999. I thought this was well-done.

“The Secret In Their Eyes” is a film that is most deserving of its Oscar and multiple awards. This film is engrossing, suspenseful and truly amazing in every way.


 

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Dennis A. Amith