Juan Jose Campanella’s thriller The Secret In Their Eyes (El Secreto De Sus Ojos), won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and justifiably so. Written and directed by Campanella, this has to be one of the finest films of the year. Alternating between the past and the present, the story spans a period of twenty-five years. The central theme is love and loneliness and the desire to find closure after such a long period of nagging uncertainty.

The film is full of questions about life and the consequences of lost opportunities. The central character, Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin), is a retired criminal court investigator in his sixties, who decides to write a book about an unsolved 1970s rape and murder case that still haunts him. After living for many years in self-imposed exile to escape an agent of Argentina’s secret police, Esposito returns to Buenos Aires and re-establishes contact with the beautiful judge, Irene Menendez Hastings (Soledad Villamil).

The story is full of flashbacks and creates a multi-layered tale which interweaves like a jigsaw puzzle. The re-encounter with his former colleague awakens another desire for closure which has also been a nagging uncertainty for many years. Esposito is also haunted by the tragic loss of a former friend and workmate Pablo Sandoval (Guillermo Francella), who was a man of genius and shared his deep sense of right and wrong. The memories and the mystery of the unsolved crime test his limits as he attempts to seek justice and fulfillment at last.

Esposito contacts the murdered victim’s husband, Ricardo Morales (Pablo Rago), who is also coming to terms with the ghosts of the past. It is one of the central questions that Campanella raises, ‘how does someone end up all alone in life?’ He seeks to discover their secrets and to find the answer to, ‘what act of madness could a pair of eyes commit when love is taken away from them?’ We are constantly being confronted with issues of love and loneliness as the story unfolds in time.

An award should have been considered for the detailed aging make-up. The 70s sets and costumes authentically portray a period in Argentinean history which was about to be overtaken by a repressive regime. It is from the memories of this period that we begin a journey that has many twists and turns as the story progresses and we discover how Esposito deals with his unfinished business. I recommend that you take the journey with him.

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