The Oscar-winning Best Foreign Film The Secret in Their Eyes is characterized by many reviewers as a crime thriller. Pay scant attention to that. While this brilliant film has a crime which needs to be solved, it is also a haunting psychological drama about obsession, justice, retribution, and love. It is a nuanced vehicle for examining the role a singular passion plays in transforming otherwise empty and ordinary lives.
Here is a brief summary of this superbly acted film, whose original title is El Secreto de Sus Ojos. Set in Argentina, starting in 1974, the film’s inciting incident is the brutal rape and murder of a young woman. Her disconsolate banker husband, unable to come to terms with her death, daily visits a rotation of train stations, believing her murderer must some day pass through there. A Justice Department agent starts an investigation that, despite setbacks and false arrests, he cannot stop thinking about, even in retirement 25 years later. In that time, the husband, too, cannot sever the hold his beloved Liliana still holds over him. Along the way, the true murderer, betrayed by his eyes in a photograph, is caught, only to be released by cynical government forces who turn a blind eye as the murderer wreaks revenge. Told in a series of flashbacks with surprising twists, this is ultimately a poignant portrayal of three love stories: that of the widower and his late wife, the agent and his Ivy-League-educated female boss, and the platonic one between the agent and his alcoholic work colleague/friend.
In Spanish with English subtitles, the movie is based on Argentine novelist Eduardo Sacheri's The Question in Her Eyes. For me, it was a delightful return to hearing again the unique Buenos Aires accent and idiom, but I wondered if the subtitles could truly capture the fast-paced dialogue and Argentine slang. My husband, though, enjoyed the movie immensely despite his only modest comprehension of Spanish. This tale of the tension between love and fear will surely linger with you for a very long time.