The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) Review

The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) – Review

Review: In the same year when The Hurt Locker won the Oscar, the race on Best Foreign Film was as tricky. Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon and Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet were top-tier following buzz in Cannes, however, Argentinian sixth Oscar nominee, The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secretos de sus Ojos) became the one who brought the award home.

Although not as pretentious and vocal as other contenders, The Secret in Their Eyes is simply the most digestible. It might seem like a typical Argentinian CSI-style whodunit with abundant of talky moments; but it certainly more than that. Not only it’s a story of obsession and romance, it’s also a small history of Argentina in a dawn of dictatorial era from the view of law enforcement. 

Director Juan José Campanella and his co-writer, Eduardo Sacheri (author of La pregunta de sus ojos, the novel adapted into the movie) insist in unraveling the secret in the characters’ eyes which centers in a rape and murder case of a newly married woman in Buenos Aires in 1974. Due to perplexed law-enforcing bureaucracy and lack of evidence also interference of dictatorial govt, the case remains unsolved for 25 year.

Benjamín Espósito (Ricardo Darin – Wild Tales), a former investigator of the case, decides to revisit it through a novel he attempts to finish. Yet, upon his return to the case, he also summons everything back: an unfinished romance with his colleague,  Irene Menéndez-Hastings (Soledad Villamil); a sincere sympathy to the victim’s widower (Pablo Rago); and all sins and paranoia he encountered years ago.

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Fueled by astonishing performance by Argentinian veteran, Ricardo Darin and Soledad Villamil, The Secret in Their Eyes is rich of character depth to construct layering conflicts. The dialogue-driven mystery itself is not too complex and there’s a moment when its importance diminishes. However, there’s more than just mystery to unravel in this story.

The literal secret in their eyes, as in the title, works in a kind of meta-meaning. There’s an annotation to how eyes take parts on the on-screen mystery; however, what makes it interesting is how Juan José Campanella keep taking close shots to catch actors’ facial expression to move the story-telling, including revealing concealed mysteries. Simply saying, eyes literally tell stories in this movie.

While the pace is a little moderate, The Secret in Their Eyes has never been an exhausting one, especially when every word leads to new discovery and every blink of eye might lead to unpredictable secret.

The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)

El Secretos de sus Ojos

star4The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) Poster

Drama, Mystery, Thriller, Crime Directed by: Juan José Campanella Written by: Juan José Campanella, Eduardo Sacheri Starred by:  Ricardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Pablo RagoGuillermo Francella Runtime: 129 mins Rated R

IMDb

 


Pada tahun yang sama saat The Hurt Locker memenangi Oscar, persaingan Best Foreign Film pun tak kalah sengitnya. The White Ribbon-nya Michael Haneke dan A Prophet karya Jacques Audiard adalah pacuan utamanya, namun justru The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secretos de sus Ojos) yang memenangkannya.

Meskipun tak se-pretentious dan selantang contender yang lain, The Secret in Their Eyes justru malah paling mudah dicerna. Sekilas mungkin film ini terlihat seperti CSI Argentina dengan banyak dialog dan plot whodunit, namun film ini tak sedangkal itu. Bukan hanya ini tentang misteri yang melibatkan ambisi dan romansa, pemenang Oscar kedua dari Argentina ini juga merangkum sejarah kelam Argentina menjelang rezim diktatorisme melalui sudut pandang penegakan hukum.

Sutradara, Juan José Campanella, dan penulis naskah (sekaligus novel La pregunta de sus ojos yang diadaptasi menjadi film ini), Eduardo Sacheri, memastikan bahwa ada rahasia di mata para karakternya tentang sebuah kasus pemerkosaan dan pembunuhan terhadap seorang wanita di Buenos Aires pada tahun 1974. Karena birokrasi yang berbelit-belit dan kurangnya bukti serta ikut campurnya pemerintah diktator, kasus ini tak terselesaikan selama 25 tahun.

Benjamín Espósito (Ricardo Darin), mantan penyidik kasus tersebut, memutuskan untuk “mengunjungi” memori akan kasus itu melalui sebuah novel yang ia coba tulis. Namun, ia justru membangkitkan kembali segalanya dari masa lalu: romansa yang belum terselesaikan dengan koleganya, Irene Menéndez-Hastings (Soledad Villamil); simpati kepada duda korban pembunuhan (Pablo Rago); serta segala dosa dan paranoia dari 25 tahun lalu.

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Dengan penampilan yang tajam dari kedua aktor utama veterannya, The Secret in Their Eyes sangat kaya akan kedalaman karakter dalam membangun konflik multi-layernya. Misterinya banyak terungkap dalam dialog namun tak pernah terlalu rumit karena ada kalanya misteri bukanlah satu-satunya hal yang ditampilkan film ini.

Judulnya sendiri memiliki arti yang meta; terbukti dengan beberapa kali rahasia terungkap lewat pandangan mata. Juan Jose Campanella pun nampak nyaman dalam memanfaatkan hal ini dengan menampilkan banyak close shot ke wajah aktor untuk memajukan penceritaannya. Beruntung para aktornya mampu menampilkan berbagai rahasia ini hanya dengan tatapan mata mereka. Intinya, The Secret in Their Eyes bukan hanya judul untuk cerita ini, tapi sekaligus deskripsi yang paling tepat untuk film ini.

Walaupun pace-nya sedikit pelan, The Secret in Their Eyes tak pernah membosankan, apalagi ketika setiap dialog yang terucap mampu mengungkap banyak hal dan setiap kedipan mata mampu membuatnya makin nyata.


The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) movie review is written by Paskalis Damar. Review film The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) ini juga diterjemahkan ke dalam Bahasa Indonesia oleh Paskalis Damar. 

 

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