The Secret in Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos) (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
October 3, 2010 by Dennis Amith
Engrossing, suspenseful and a film from Argentina that exemplifies wonderful cinema, “The Secret in Their Eyes” is absolutely fantastic! Highly recommended!
© 2009, 2010 Tornasol Films S.A., Haddock Films S.R.L., 100 Bares Producciones S.A. and El secreto de sus ojos A.I.E. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: The Secret In Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos)
FILM RELEASE: 2009
DURATION: 129 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:25:1), Spanish, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RATED: R (for a rape scene, violent images, some graphic nudity and language)
Release Date: September 21, 2010
Directed by Juan Jose Campanella
Based on the novel “La Pregunta de sus ojos” by Eduardo Sacheri
Written by Juan Jose Campanella
Executive Producers: Gerardo Herrero, Vanessa Ragone
Produced by Mariela Besuievski, Juan Jose Campanella, Carolina Urbieta
Assistant Producer: Guillermo Imsteyf, Axel Kuschevatzky
Music by Federico Jusid, Emilio Kauderer
Cinematography by Felix Monti
Edited by Juan Jose Campanella
Casting by Walter Rippell
Art Direction by Marcelo Pont Verges
Costume Design by Cecilia Monti
Soledad Villamil as Irene Menendez Hastings
Ricardo Darin as Benjamin Esposito
Carla Quevedo as Liliana Coloto
Pablo Rago as Ricardo Morales
Javier Godino as Isidoro Gomez
Barbara Palladino as Chica Piropo
Rudy Romano as Ordonez
Alejandro Abelenda as Pinche Mariano
Mario Alarcon as Juez Fortuna Lacalle
Guillermo Francella as Pablo Sandoval
Sebastian Blanco as Pinche Tino
Mariano Argento as Romano
Recently retired criminal court investigator Benjamin (Ricardo Darin), decides to write a novel based on a twenty-five year old unresolved rape and murder case, which still haunts him. Sharing his plans with Irene (Soledad Villamil), the beautiful judge and former colleague he has secretly been in love with for years, Benjamin’s initial involvement with the case is shown through flashbacks, as he sets out to identify the murderer. But Benjamin’s search for the truth will put him at the center of a judicial nightmare, as the mystery of the heinous crime continues to unfold in the present, testing the limits of a man seeking justice and personal fulfillment at last.
Engrossing, suspenseful and a film from Argentina that exemplifies wonderful cinema, “The Secret in Their Eyes” is absolutely fantastic!
The Academy Award winner of “Best Foreign Film” of 2009, the film “El secreto de sus ojos” (The Secret in Their Eyes” is a film that I can’t emphasize enough…”must be seen!”.
Directed by Juan Jose Campanella (“Son of the Bride”, “Avelleneda’s Moon”), the award winning film is an adaptation of Eduardo Sacheri’s novel “La pregunta de sus ojos” and is Argentina’s second biggest office success since the 1975 Leonardo Favio classic “Nazareno Cruz y el lobo” (Nazareno Cruz and the Wolf).
The film begins with a quick flashback from 1974 of a woman saying goodbye to a man on a train and we see her running after the train. The film then shifts to 1999, former federal justice agent Benjamin Esposito (played by Ricardo Darin) is a writer and working on his first novel. What appears to be a romance novel, we then see a quick scene of a woman being raped. Benjam returns back to his home and original workplace in which he meets up with an old friend, Irene Menendez-Hastings (played by Soledad Villamil). The two have not seen each other for 25-years and Irene is now the department chief. Benjamin explains to her that he is writing a novel and it is based on a murder case from 1974 that the two previously worked on.
The film then gives us a flashback of 1974 when Benjamin was an agent and Irene Menendez-Hastings has moved to Argentina after attending Harvard in the US. Benjamin is sent to check out a murder case which involved a young teacher named Liliana Colotto who was brutally raped and murdered inside her home in Buenos Aires. We watch as how Benjamin is taken back by the murder, he looks around and sees photos of this beautiful young woman and her husband. As they question her husband, bank employee Ricardo Morales (Pablo Rago), but he is devastated by her death. Benjamin is taken back by the love Ricardo has for his wife and he saw it in the family photos, a love that he has never seen before.
At work, Benjamin is determined to find the killer and as he and his friend and fellow co-worker Pablo Sandoval (played by Guillermo Francella), who is an alcoholic, try to find out who the killer is. Problem is that Benjamin’s rival Romano (played by Mariano Argento) has pinned the murder on two construction workers and is more concerned about making the department look good even if they pin murders on innocent people. Benjamin is angered by what he sees and a fight between the two men nearly take place. Unfortunately, the higher ups have closed the case despite Benjamin knowing that the real killer is still out there.
As Benjamin goes to visit the victim’s husband and while talking and looking at family photo albums, Benjamin notices that on all photos, there is a man constantly staring at the victim. The man is Isidoro Gomez (played by Javier Godino) and without permission, Benjamin and Pablo investigate the whereabouts of Isidro and believes he is the man who had murdered Liliana.
Meanwhile, tensions in the office between Benjamin and his new boss Irene begin to develop but at the same time, a sort of attraction between the two. So much, that even Benjamin’s co-workers know that he is attracted to Irene.
The film alternates back and forth from 1999, as Benjamin presents part of his novel to Irene and rehashing old memories but at the same time, we see Benjamin as he comes to grip on a murder case that has consumed him for the last 25-years. Will the killer of Liliana Colotto be found?
“The Secret In Their Eyes” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1). The film is shot digitally and there is good emphasis on lighting and also how scenes were captured. Cinematography by Felix Monti does an excellent job in capturing a variety of scenes, especially in one scene which required a large crowd during a soccer match.
The film does display a lot of vibrant red and amber colors (due to the lighting) or characters wearing red but for the most part, the lighting is well-done. A lot of detail is captured on the walls, texture on the photo books, twill clothing, cigarette smoke flowing through the air to the wrinkles on the skin (love what they did in transforming the characters for 1974 and 1999). Skin tones are natural and blacks are nice and deep. I did notice occasional banding but nothing too disruptive.
But overall, picture quality is very good.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Secret in Their Eyes” is presented in Spanish and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Dialogue is crisp and clear and there are times throughout the film where surround channels are being used such as gun shots or a train going through the tracks, crowd ambiance, cell phone ringing, etc. But for the most part, the film is driven by its dialogue and music.
The music by Federico Jusid and Emilio Kauderer is well done, especially during the more emotional scenes and the score is quite powerful.
But “The Secret in Their Eyes” is not one of those films where you can expect immersive sound. But for a film that focuses on romance, drama, mystery and suspense, the lossless audio is appropriate for this type of film.
Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH and French.
“The Secret In Their Eyes” comes with the following special features presented in standard definition, Spanish Stereo and English subtitles:
- Commentary with Director Juan Jose Campanella – A very detailed audio commentary as director Juan Jose Campanella breaks down the film and its love story as well as the detective story. Campanella breaks down each scene and explains to the viewer a background of what he wanted to accomplish with each scene. A very intelligent and well-done audio commentary from the filmmaker.
- Behind the Scenes of The Secret in Their Eyes – (4:12) A short featurette on the making of “The Secret In Their Eyes”. Featuring crew and staff talking about working with each other and
- Casting The Secret in Their Eyes – (10:38) Featuring audition footage of various talent for the film.
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.
“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.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality and audio quality were well-done. PQ has a bit of banding but other than that, it is a solid Sony Pictures Classics release. If anything prevents near perfection of this Blu-ray release is the special features. Aside from the wonderful audio commentary by Campanella, the special features were just two short featurettes and I was hoping for more. Especially on the transforming of the characters for the two time periods.
Overall, “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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