The secret in their eyes

The Secret in Their Eyes

Country: Argentina
Release Date: August 13, 2009
Genre(s): Drama
Director: Juan José Campanella
Cast: Ricardo Darin, Soledad Villamil, Carla Quevedo, Pablo Rago, Javier Godino
Awards: Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Goya Award for Best Spanish Language Foreign Film

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The Secret in Their Eyes

The secret in their eyes - scene

The Secret in Their Eyes (Spanish: El secreto de sus ojos) is a 2009 Argentine crime thriller film, directed by Juan José Campanella, based on Eduardo Sacheri’s novel La Pregunta de Sus Ojos (The Question in Their Eyes). The film stars Ricardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Javier Godino, Guillermo Francella and Pablo Rago. The film is a joint production of Argentine and Spanish companies.

The film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards, making Argentina the first country in Latin America to win it twice (having already won for The Official Story in 1985).This happened just three weeks after being awarded the Goya Award for Best Spanish Language Foreign Film of 2009 (the Goya Awards are the Spanish equivalent of the American Academy Awards). As of 2010 it has become the second biggest box office success in Argentine film history, only surpassed by Leonardo Favio’s 1975 classic Nazareno Cruz y el lobo (Nazareno Cruz and the Wolf).


Benjamin Esposito has spent his entire working life as a criminal court employee. Recently retired and with time on his hands, he decides to write a novel. He does not decide to make up a story. There is no need to. He can draw on his own past as a civil servant for a true, moving and tragic story in which he was once very directly involved. In 1974, his court was assigned an investigation into the rape and murder of a beautiful young woman.

At the scene of the crime, Esposito sees the result of the young woman’s rape and murder first hand. He meets Ricardo Morales, who had married the girl a short time before and worshipped her body and soul. Moved by Ricardo’s grief, Esposito tries to help him find the culprit despite having to contend with the apathy and ineptitude of the police and legal system. He knows that for help he can count on Sandoval, an underling at the office yet a close friend, who occasionally seeks release from the routine of his existence by drinking himself unconscious. He can also turn to Irene, his immediate superior and secretary of the court, with whom he is secretly deeply in love, although there is no hope that she will ever love him.

The search for the murderer is anything but simple. No clues remain at the scene of the crime and Esposito must rely on guesswork and his own instincts to make any progress. Furthermore, Argentina in 1974 is not a peaceful place. It is a perfect backdrop for the violence, hate, revenge and death that rule people’s lives and fates.
To this ever more hostile and dark setting, Esposito’s investigation takes him deep into a world of terrible violence. No longer an observer, he becomes an unwilling central character in a drama in which he is exposed to ever-greater danger.

But it is not only the young Esposito of 1974 who is swept along by the storm of events, for that storm also envelops the present-day Esposito, the old would-be writer, and sets him adrift. By deciding to revive and relive his memories, he has set in motion the wheels of the terrible mechanism of memory. And those memories are neither innocent, neutral nor aseptic. Esposito writes, and as he does so, relives a past that rises up before his eyes and awakens all his demons: particularly those involving his past decisions, uncertainties and irreparable mistakes.

As he moves forward, Esposito begins to see that it is now too late to stop. Telling a story from the past is no longer just a pastime to fill his empty hours. It becomes a narrow, winding path he must take if he is to understand and find justification for his own life, if he is to give any meaning to the years remaining to him, and if once and for all he is to face up to the woman who, thirty years on, he is still in love with.


Data Sheet

Directed by: Juan José Campanella
Produced by: Juan José Campanella, Gerardo Herrero, Mariela Besuievski, Vanessa Ragone, Axel Kuschevatzky,
Written by: Eduardo Sacheri and Juan José Campanella
Cast: Ricardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Guillermo Francella, Pablo Rago, Javier Godino, Mariano Argento and José Luis Gioia.
Music by: Federico Jusid and Emilio Kauderer.
Cinematography: Félix Monti.
Release date(s): August 13, 2009
Running time: 127 minutes
Country: Argentina
Language: Spanish review

The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos), an Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film, is part cold-case mystery, part long-lost love story, and part thriller set both in the present and in 1970s Argentina, under the tight control of its infamous military dictatorship. Director Juan José Campanella manages to tread easily across these genres with a story that’s gripping, a little outlandish, and compelling–if full of a growing sense of dread. The Secret in Their Eyes stars Ricardo Darín as Benjamin, a policeman who gets pulled into investigating a decades-old crime, and becomes drawn in, almost against his will, as layers of information about the missing (murdered?) girl slowly come to light. As Benjamin investigates, he runs into a woman for whom he has long carried a torch, Irene (Soledad Villamil), an ambitious judge who had also at one point been involved in adjudicating the old crime. The chemistry between Benjamin and Irene is part of the “secret in their eyes,” as the pull between the old colleagues becomes palpable. But also palpable is the hold that this unsolved crime has over Benjamin–a creepy borderline obsession that is reminiscent of the American film noir classic Laura. Fancy cinematography and well-crafted flashbacks to the era of the crime–set against the backdrop of the military dictatorship–add extra depth to what is a truly original story, told in layers with great intelligence. Fans of great mysteries and dramas–and of lost love that may again be found–will not want to miss The Secret in Their Eyes. –A.T. Hurley

Amazon Customer Reviews

Revenge is a Dish that is served Cold.
Director Juan Jose Campanella has authored many outstanding films as “Luna de Avellaneda” (Moon of Avellaneda) (2004), “El Hijo de la Novia” (The Son of the Bride) (2001), “El Mismo Amor la Misma Lluvia” (Same Love, Same Rain) (1999) and finally the present “El Secreto de Tus Ojos” (The Secret in Their Eyes) (2009).
With these films he has won 36 awards and 18 nominations all around the world!
He is a solid narrator; his films have definitely an Argentinean flavor and at the same time express universal human emotions and recognizable values.
His opuses are first of all entertaining and deal with everyday issues: mother-son relations, the effort of some neighbors to save a small Social Club from being erased and love stories. Over this backdrop Campanella skillfully play with his endearing characters.

“The Secret in Their Eyes” is a crime story, the efforts to discover and capture the criminal and finally, when official justice fails, revenge and retribution. At the same time there is a love story, some very funny comedic scenes and some very brutal ones.

The story follows: in a small downtown apartment a young woman is raped and murdered. Benjamin Esposito is the Court investigator assigned to the case and unusual gory crime scene steels him into a fervent desire to discover and punish the criminal.
With the help of his boss, Court Secretary Irene Menendez Hastings, and dipsomaniac clerk Pablo Sandoval he solves the case against the opposition of Judge Lacalle.
Those were turbulent years in Argentina under military dictatorship and a strange combination of issues sends Benjamin into forced internal exile and the wrongdoer enters the police forces.
Many years after these events, the lives of the main characters cross again giving way to dramatic unexpected ending.

Ricardo Darin Campanella’s fetish actor (he is the main male character in all the above mentioned films) fleshes Benjamin superbly showing a vast repertory of emotions. This is not a coincidence. Darin is IMHO one of the best Argentinean actors, able to perform dramatic or comedic characters with outstanding conviction.
Beautiful Soledad Villamil as Irene delivers a performance full of subtleties and strength. Guillermo Francella as dipsomaniac sidekick of Darin is unforgettable.

Cinematography is in charge of Brazilian Felix Monti who has won many awards with this film and with many others, totalizing 18 wins and 4 nominations, all well deserved.
Finally “The Secret in Their Eyes” has won the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year Oscar!

This is a great provoking film for adult audiences. Do not miss it you’ll be delighted!

Reviewed by Max Yofre.

The Secret in Their Eyes is one of the best named movies and is a fantastic thriller mixed with romance
“The Secret in their Eyes” (“El secreto de sus ojos”) was the Best Picture winner for Foreign Language Film at the Oscars this year. It was a big upset due to most people favoring “The White Ribbon” or “A Prophet” and left people asking, what is this film? It is a crime thriller interlaced with romance based on the novel by Eduardo Sacheri and was adapted for the screen by him and by director Juan José Campanella. The retired Argentinian federal justice agent Benjamín Espósito played by Ricardo Darín decides to write a novel about a case that perplexes him twenty-five years later and through revisiting those memories, more pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place.

The case was the brutal rape and murder of Liliana Coloto (Carla Quevedo) leaving behind a grieved husband, Ricardo Morales (Pablo Rago) who unable to cope sits at the train station each day for a year hoping to spot the suspect. Espósito with the help of his assistant, Pablo Sandoval (Guillermo Francella) and department chief Irene Menéndez-Hastings (Soledad Villamil) investigates and rules out the first accused and spends most of the story trying to track down the elusive suspected killer played by Javier Godino. Benjamín’s assistant, Sandoval is a passionate drunk who has moments of occasional brilliance in solving the case but ultimately cannot pull himself out of his stupor long enough to go home to his wife and sober up making him a bit of a screw-up and most of the film’s comic relief. When a suspect is found, Irene and Benjamín spend one of the most suspenseful elevator rides EVER on film with him.

At the same time, Benjamín has a problem of being in love with his boss, Irene. Irene is engaged to someone else and due to mentioned limitations of class and upbringing, he shuts down and fails to come up with compliments he wants to shower her with and cannot tell her what she means to him although their eyes both tell a bigger story of longing. In the present, Irene is the one Benjamín keeps bringing his novel back to for approval and they both look back on the story with dissatisfaction at the conclusion of the case and work towards trying to bring it to ultimate justice.

This is one of those movies where the title REALLY fits the film since you start watching the messages being sent with each character’s eyes throughout. Sometimes they will say one thing but their eyes communicate something else. The whole reason they came up with their main suspect was through the direction of their eyes in some photos. Ricardo Darín as Benjamín Espósito was particularly reserved in his words and facial expressions throughout the film when talking to the love of his life and their scenes together were full of enough sexual tension to cut with a knife.

The set-up of going back and forth using the past to come to terms with the present is a concept used very often and the layout of this story leads the viewer down a few different paths before bringing in a surprise that is unexpected at the end. What is fantastic about this film is the combination of elements of drama, thriller, comedy, and a great understated romance between two people who work together and fear “living a whole life full of nothing” as they gaze at each other but do not act on their impulses. There is a bit of a cliche leaving someone on a train platform scene but it does not take away from the story.

Many people are hesitant to go out to foreign language films because they find it annoying to read the subtitles but regardless, I recommend seeing this one. It is an entertaining, engaging story throughout with something for everyone in terms of emotional range and plot. Or maybe you can wait for a dub version….or an American remake….which will probably happen since it won.

Silence of the lambs
I agree with all the previous reviewers that this is a superb film, even though my vote for best film of the year would had been for “White Ribbon”.

All the same the film is excellent; the actors are a joy to see; direction and photography are top rate. Again, I agree with all the comments about the actors in this film, but one actor that I particularly liked was Pablo Rago as the husband of the murdered woman. He was excellent, especially in the last chilling sequence. Also, I didn’t spot a mention on that incredible single-shot sequence in the stadium. A combination of Orson Welles with Alfred Hitchcock as the camera moves from an aerial view of the stadium to the single spectator not following the football game.

The most intriguing aspect of the film comes at that final sequence where all the moral dilemmas of crime, punishment, revenge, right, wrong, etc etc come to a head without any easy or moralistic talk from the filmmakers.

Highly recommended.

The Secret in Their Eyes, 9.5 out of 10 based on 6 ratings


The secret in their eyes
El Secreto De Sus Ojos - DVD cover
The Secret In Their Eyes - Poster
El Secreto De Sus Ojos - wallpaper
The Secret In Their Eyes - movie scene
The Secret In Their Eyes - backstage
The Secret In Their Eyes - movie scene
The Secret In Their Eyes - movie scene
The Secret In Their Eyes - movie scene
The Secret In Their Eyes - movie scene
The Secret In Their Eyes - movie scene
The Secret In Their Eyes - backstage
The Secret In Their Eyes - movie scene
Juan Jose Campanella


The secret in their eyes Play
The Secret in Their Eyes
The Secret in Their Eyes (Spanish: El secreto de sus ojos) is a 2009 Argentine crime thriller film, directed by Juan José Campanella, based on Eduardo Sacheri’s novel La Pregunta de Sus Ojos (The Question in Their Eyes). The film stars Ricardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Javier Godino, Guillermo Francella...
Posted 07 Jan 2011
The secret in their eyes Play
The secret in their eyes (UK trailer)
WINNER OF THE BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE OSCAR 2010. For 25 years, a murder case has remained indelibly etched on Benjamín Espósito’s mind. Now retired, he decides to go back over that story and take another look at a past full of love, death and friendship. But those memories, once...
Posted 07 Jan 2011

Posted by  IberoAmericanMovies
Categories: Argentina, Argentine movies, Goya, Images, Oscar, Synopsis, Trailers


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