The Secret in their Eyes (2009)

Gate of memories | 129 minutes

Movie Info


There is so much in the fate that one couldn’t control and rightly “The Secret in their Eyes” in its subtle start, gives an impression to go on forever. This Argentinian detective and mystery plot peg on the celluloid into a masterpiece, blend in intoxication as in the brightest and least ambiguous of elements of belief and reflection of life. The romantic eternal melody of the waves in which reasons are drowned over the long pause in the passage of time

Such is the power of Juan José Campanella directed The Secret in Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos). Campanella is a prominent film-maker and achieved international fame winning the Academy Award for the best foreign film of 2009. This is based on the story by the popular Argentinian writer Eduardo Sacheri. He collaborated on the screenplay with Campanella. The title has couple of meaning, at one level is a poignant love story unspoken, underlying the whole glance of over two decades. At another level is a solid mystery that resonates through the different political climate and undoubtedly plots a tightfitting layer to this classily made movie

Besides the Academy award, this film is honored the Spanish equivalent with the Goya Award. The movie is immensely sensitive, well performed and Campanella known for his American television dramas for Law & Order, 3D rock and 6 degrees, etc. sizes to the larger timbre with the events that builds the narrative presentation as a metaphor for the climate of fear and vengeance that heightened in Argentina before the rise of the military junta of 70s. Truly, it’s very well adapted to the Sacheri’s basic story that’s uncovered on the silver screen.

This film presents the tale in parallels between the present and the past. Undoubtedly have a reason cast into belief and a complete tour-de-force in a ceaseless period surrounding Argentina’s Cámpora government of 70’s and its Dirty War, indeed functions as a menacing, all-pervasive backdrop. The environment transcends both on the structural inserts and the direct impact of the law and the court system of how it functioned as well as the crime’s ultimate consequences of that Latin American wasteland. It is the epicenter of a gripping thriller and the thriving illustrations. The Secret in their Eyes, in its opulence, is fearless, exhilarating, exciting, engaging, potent, shocking, and wholly haunting.

The intrigue of this story rather begins in a self-effacing modus. The main character played by Ricardo Darín as Benjamin Esposito, a newly retired criminal court investigator, who decides to fill his empty hours by pandering his passion for writing. Going through the clench over a life of discontents, and mislaid opportunities, Benjamin Esposito set out to write a manuscript of his own based on a dreadful unresolved Morales case of the past.

Struggling to find the inspiration for the novel through his diversion from his own source of disappointments about his worst case he was ever involved with a 25-year-old Liliana Coloto, wife of Morales, who happened to be raped and murdered in fine morning of June 1974, an event for which Ben considered a wasted fixation and an extended obsession, unvaryingly leading to the signpost of his finished career and muddled life. The story unlocks an absorbing back and forth journey through the period in Buenos Aires between 1974 and 2000.

Pronouncing in present to start his first novel-Ben visits the office of Judge Irene Menéndez-Hastings (Soledad Villamil) to communicate her about his plans to report the story of unfinished Morales case, the originated evidence that they both worked twenty five years earlier, and what seem fresh is the year 1974 in that glimpse of her being Cornell-educated joining then new as the department chief assigned to work with Benjamin. Liliana Coloto homicide brings Ben, Irene and Pablo together for the investigation

Spaced out from the three important characters in the film, the film’s lifeline and mystery remains with some finely derived personality in Ricardo Morales (Pablo Rago), Coloto’s husband as  young Bank clerk, with the deep love had for his wife and the devastation he feels over her loss. Similarly, the character of Coloto’s classmate Isidoro Gomez (Javier Godino) is also significant as the suspect, where Ben finds a clue to the killer’s identity in Liliana Coloto’s picture album, observing the bold staring eyes of suspicious young man Isidoro Gomez. Irene rejects the draft and does not agree that an agent can identify a killer by the look in his eyes and also Gomez’s lack of masculinity, speculating aloud in blunt terms that he cannot be the one. This dilutes Benjamin’s nous to the open.

Benjamin also confronts the system with his rival Romano (Mariano Argento), who beats a confession out of two innocent construction laborers found working near the couple’s apartment. Ben gets them released and strikingly bouts Romano in a justice building hall. The original investigations expose the dark legal alleys and complex hierarchies of the Argentinian judicial system and the labyrinthine vault where cold case files are archived. The power, guilt, and accountability are strewed that is well overwintered in the closure of case after one year of its investigation

In all the dazed confrontation, Benjamin’s friendship with hapless alcoholic Pablo Sandoval is uplifting and given to drinking himself into a stupor in a nearby bar, Pablo  indiscreetly disapproving the fascists in charge, and then having to be carried out by Ben and permitted to sleep on his couch because Sandoval’s wife refuses to have him in the house

Through both chance and disposition, the film has a delightful and delicate touch of enigmatic romance between Irene and Benjamin- essentially their personal entreaty, charm and heavy heart through the thin air of uneasy calm is the only thing bind together over so many years beneath the surface of their professional relationship. The present day tilts both Ben and Irene in the middle of discussion with the novel, she admits there were imprecisions in the perspective connecting to Gomez’s very look in the picture. She also questions why did Ben decide to address the past now and he explains “my loneliness and the paradox are nothing to fright; they are there to let you know that something is worth it.”  In those bright interactions- Ben’s own doubts on his absurd writing ability and she discerningly asks him to start where his memory are fresh to recall.

Many passages later, she confronts the lows of her past to wishfully forget the bygone. She senses that her sanity is to move ahead for what she can get – “some” justice, a life with her husband and kids. Her unspoken communiqué reveals so much in her eyes. The relationship is so amazingly tested and pulls off with so little of the natural cinematic markers and Ricardo Darín and ever beautiful Soledad Villamil fill the screen with heartfelt longing that touches utterly honest.

Ben, Sandoval, and Hastings make a charming team and each of them brings a powerful personality to the table in all searing screen presences and the chemistry between them produces stimulating sparks. Every character of the film in their unleashing medley of emotions is intersected at the various subplots. The narrative throughout the story pumps emotional blood through every frame. The subplots are merely a small piece of this hugely impressive puzzle, but nothing is left behind in this movie and such careful attention to character detail is one more reason

Felix Monti’s spirited camerawork exhibits a brilliant visual fare, letting loose after the suspect Gomez spotted in the busy bowels of the football stadium. The camera chase dashing up on him, trailing him, leaping over handrails and even chasing onto the field, where thousands of screaming fans boo as he interferes with a goal. It’s a pretty primeval chase sequence, as distinguishable as it is frenetic. It’s also here that Ben explores years later in his novel, just a preface to a decades-long nightmare that’s far less open.

Director Campanella never leases the movie shrink from memory and he approaches the ending with the colossal meaning of thoroughgoing impact with those Beethoven’s moonlight sonata and the absolute musical setting by duo of Federico Jusid and Emilio Kauderer is a majestic magic. The climax set in the farmhouse of Morales and Gomez as his hostage. Evidently horrified, Ben realizes that this is probably the only punishment Gomez would ever receive and he walks out. He pays a visit to Sandoval’s grave and knowing that Gómez will never be a free man again.

He visits Irene one more time, where he finally responds to her feelings. They smilingly shut themselves in her office and so are the inevitable narrative force pinch our nerve in a most beautiful feeling and leave us to come in term with life and hope the secret in their eyes…Bravura of visual inference

The Crew

  • Written and Directed by Juan J. Campanella
  • Produced by Juan José Campanella; Juan F DellAglio & Gerardo Herrero
  • Based on “La pregunta de sus ojos “by Eduardo Sacheri
  • Cast: Ricardo Darín; Soledad Villamil; Guillermo Francella; Pablo Rago and Javier Godino
  • Music by Federico Jusid and Emilio Kauderer
  • Cinematography: Félix Monti
  • Edited by Juan José Campanella
  • Production Companies: Haddock Films; 100 Bares & Tornasol Films
  • Distributed by Distribution Company (Argentina) & Sony Pictures Classics (US)
  • Release dates: 13 August 2009
  • Run time of 129 minutes
  • Country: Argentina
  • Language: Spanish

Trailers & Videos


A secret in their eyes-Trailer

Gate of memories

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