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The Best of 2009: 'The Secret in Their Eyes'

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The Secret in Their Eyes


This is the second mystery to end up on this list, and it is unmistakably a well made film regardless of being a comedy or a thriller. This also happens to be the winner of the Best Foreign Film Oscar for 2009 (from Argentina). This film has sparked a certain amount of aggravation from certain viewers who like to compare it to other foreign films from completely different countries and cultures. Every culture has their unique approach to taking on a story even if every conceivable story contains similarities in design. The design is what storytellers have learned as an effective schematic throughout the years, but the eyes that focus the story can always differ.

With The Secret in Their Eyes, the film tackles the subject of intuition. It is not just a look in the eyes, but the feeling that something is amiss. Ergo, there is no better way to handle this concept other than through the lives of detectives. Set at two different periods in Argentina's troubled history, a cynical, but tireless detective named Esposito (his name is a sly reference to the word, exposition) attempts to recount the events that occurred during one of his most brutal homicide cases. He writes down all his thoughts and memories into his new novel, and this process has its own story paralleling his flashes into the past. Along for the ride is his offbeat, alcoholic partner, Sandoval, and their sassy boss, Irene, a woman that constantly impresses Esposito to the point that he begins to secretly fall in love with her. Facing such heavy opposition from corrupt judges and bitter policial rivals, Esposito is constantly asking himself what went wrong during these investigations.

One of the most intriguing things about this story is that it is continually motivated by the hidden emotions within their characters, hence the title. Esposito always feels like there is something wrong and something else occurring in the mix. His partner, though inebriated often, comes up with marvelous revelations that come just in the nick of time. And Irene is not sure what to make of Esposito and his case. Is she beginning to get too close to her employee for comfort? The handheld photography in this is also worth noting. It is not dizzying, nor is it distracting. It gives the film a realistic quality, but is subtle enough to give the film a degree of intimacy. The mystery makes several twists and turns, as well as leaving us some unanswered questions (just like in real police cases), but it turns out that all people involved in this type of profession keep more things to themselves than is healthy.