Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day Eighty-Two: The Secret in Their Eyes

Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #175
Year: 2009
Director: Juan Jose Campanella
Starring: Ricardo Darin and Soledad Villamil

This post is probably going to be a little weird. The Secret in Their Eyes just came out on DVD yesterday, so I'm reviewing it for Weekend, the entertainment section in the Indiana Daily Student – and that is a shameless plug, by the way. The thing is, that review has to be 125-175 words, and my blogs usually run upwards of 500. So to save myself from too much rewriting, what follows on this post may see me exercising more brevity than I usually do for Twohundredfifty.

The Secret in Their Eyes became a familiar name to American film lovers during Oscar season earlier this year, when it garnered a nomination for Best Foreign Film – an award it would eventually win. The Argentinian film is the story of a vigilant federal justice agent played by Ricardo Darin who, along with his alcoholic best friend and a beautiful young lawyer, sets out to convict a man accused of the rape and murder of a young woman. They catch him and get him to confess to the crimes, but he slips through their fingers and is freed. He masterminds the murder of Darin's drunk friend, and drops off the map. Or so we think. In the film's penultimate scene, there's a brilliant twist that changes everything. It kind of feels like something you should have seen coming, but I definitely didn't. All of the performances are spot on, and director Juan Jose Campanella shines in familiar territory – he has directed a number of episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show which The Secret in Their Eyes is essentially an extended, Spanish language episode of. That's not a slight against it, though; the film clearly earned its Oscar. Through tense dialogue and claustrophobic camerawork the gravity that the movie's central crime holds for all of its characters is made abundantly clear, and every scene is important. If there was a film more deserving of the Best Foreign Film Oscar this year, I haven't seen it.

The Good: With a movie this straightforward, you wouldn't really expect a big twist at the ending. And yet this movie has one, and it sends the movie through the stratosphere. Well played, Mr. Campanella.

The Bad: I totally went over 175 words on this review, so now I have a little extra work to do this week. That's more of a personal problem than a problem with the movie. I'm not sure the movie had any problems, or if it did, I didn't catch them. Great, great film.

The Skinny: I like it at #175. If I was going to arbitrarily name a place on the list to put it, I probably would name #175.

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