El secreto de sus ojos [The Secret in Their Eyes] (2009)

<strong class="MovieTitle">El secreto de sus ojos</strong> [<strong class="MovieTitle">The Secret in Their Eyes</strong>] (2009)

(On DVD, March 2016) Much-lauded Argentinian import El secreto de sus ojos does take a while to get going: Much of the first hour is spent laboriously setting up the chronology of a crime twenty years past, with characters seemingly reflecting upon their past histories for little compelling reason. (For North-American audiences, part of the film’s early issues is also trying to understand the Argentinian criminal system and the interactions of the various roles presented on-screen, as well as the ominous implications of Argentina’s past history on the actions of the characters.) But then, as a brightly-lit stadium shows up in the night and we’re abruptly dragged into an amazing long-shot takedown of a suspect, El secreto de sus ojos suddenly kicks in high gear, and a competently-made crime drama suddenly takes on an increasingly distinctive feel. By the time the ending wraps up, we’ve been taken places that few criminal dramas touch upon, the framing device makes sense and the characters come into their own. (And never mind that the stadium shot sticks out as atypical from the rest of the film.) It’s not to anyone’s advantage to know more about the story, except that it does go somewhere after a slow beginning. El secreto de sus ojos won a Foreign-Language Academy Award for a good reason: originally conceived and competently executed by director Juan J. Campanella, it’s an accessible crime story with just enough difference to make things fascinating.

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