The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)

2010

The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)

Critics Consensus

Unpredictable and rich with symbolism, this Argentinian murder mystery lives up to its Oscar with an engrossing plot, Juan Jose Campanella's assured direction, and mesmerizing performances from its cast.

91%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 137

93%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 28,461
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Movie Info

Benjamin Esposito has spent his entire working life as a criminal court employee. Recently retired, and with time on his hands, he decides to write a novel. He does not decide to make up a story. There is no need to. He can draw on his own past as a civil servant for a true, moving and tragic story in which he was once very directly involved. In 1974 his court was assigned an investigation into the rape and murder of a beautiful young woman. -- (C) Sony Classics

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Cast

Soledad Villamil
as Irene Menéndez Hastings
Guillermo Francella
as Pablo Sandoval
Javier Godino
as Isidoro Gómez
Pablo Rago
as Ricardo Morales
Carla Quevedo
as Liliana Coloto
Rudy Romano
as Ordoñez
Bárbara Palladino
as Chica Piropo
Ricardo Darín
as Benjamín Espósito
Mario Alarcón
as Judge Lacalle
José Luis Gioia
as Inspector Báez
Juan José Ortiz
as Agent Cordozo
Kiko Cerone
as Molinari
Elvio Duvini
as Juan Robles
Sergio López Santana
as Jácinto Cáceres
Pedro Kochdilian
as Borracho 1
Gabriela Daniell
as Alejandra Sandoval
Carlos Mele
as Viejo Letrina
Iván Sosa
as Custodio Interrogatorio
Judith Buchalter
as Madre Irene
Hector LaPorta
as Guardia Civil Ministerio Bienestar Social
Liliana Cuomo
as Margarita
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Critic Reviews for The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)

All Critics (137) | Top Critics (37)

  • More of Eva and Juan Peron and the impact of fascism on the society would have added to the movie. Nevertheless, it is a good ride, but not a great one.

    Jan 12, 2018 | Full Review…

    Ed Koch

    The Atlantic
    Top Critic
  • A supremely watchable, well-made and well-acted movie with a dark, sinewy sense of history...

    Aug 13, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • A stylish and intelligent Argentine offering -- destined to become a world cinema classic.

    Aug 13, 2010 | Rating: 4/5
  • It's a film of enormous pretension and not enough reward.

    Aug 12, 2010 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Dave Calhoun

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Romantic obsession at its two extremes is explored with sympathy and intelligence in the thriller The Secret in Their Eyes...

    Jun 2, 2010 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • Although it has some memorably disquieting scenes, this story of long-delayed justice is sustained by its melancholy more than its thrills.

    May 21, 2010 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)

  • Jun 26, 2013
    Complain about originality all you want, but if you analyze the trends of modern cinema, authenticity is what matters today. Beneath a crime story lies a stronger central theme: that of not being able to let go. Human emotions are much more "complicated" than anything else. The two unresolved personal matters of Benjamin symbolize both passion and regret, but passion above all, because, just as it was stated, it is permanent. The true questions to be solved individually is: How do we choose to live or live without it, and why? Can they be fulfilled? 77/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • May 05, 2013
    The 2010 Academy Awards category for Best Foreign Language film contained some strong contenders with the likes of Jacques Audiard's "A Prophet" and Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon"; two films that could easily have laid claim to the award. However, it was this film crept up from under their noses and took the Oscar. Whether or nor you pay any credence to the Oscars is neither here nor there but there's no doubt that this is solid and absorbing filmmaking. In 1999, retired criminal justice officer Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darìn) decides to write a novel about a murder case that he investigated in 1974. He decides visits his old colleague Irene Hastings (Soledad Villamil) to talk it over. The case had repercussions for everyone involved but Benjamin didn't realise the direct effect it had on him or his deep, suppressed feelings for Irene. With a title like "The Secret In Their Eyes", this film states it's intentions and stands by them. Director Juan José Campanella lingers long on shots and wisely focuses on the eyes of his performers. For a film that's predominately dialogue driven, the abundance of close-up's add another dimension where the eyes speak a thousand words. It's a great technique that conveys a myriad of hidden meanings in the relationship between the two main characters, Benjamin and Irene. However, this relationship is not entirely apparent from the off-set. It's only when the film's layers are revealed that this comes to the surface, as in the meantime you're too preoccupied with it's murder-mystery plot developments. This mystery progresses into a manhunt, while taking time to explore the judicial system and political corruption that was rife in Argentina in 1970's. It's during this, that Campanella takes advantage of the thriller element in the story, delivery an absolutely astounding and very skilfully handled tracking shot through a football stadium, leading to an impressively assembled chase sequence. Just how they managed to do it is beyond me and needs to be seen to be believed. There are many moments of intensity when it matters (including a nerve-racking elevator moment that's hard to forget) but it also knows how to ground itself and that's were the performances come in; Ricardo Darin is a charismatic presence who more than holds your interest with unshakable ideals and a strong moral compass, while Soledad Villamil delivers a strong and reserved show. It's the chemistry between these two wonderful actors that play a big part in the film's, effortless, tonal shifts. It's also not without humour or tragedy which is provided by Guillermo Francella as Benjamin's alcoholic, but loyal and reliable colleague, Pablo. Quite simply, it's easy to see why this film took the Oscar, it's has a bit of everything; a sharp and involving script that pays great attention to detail; skilful direction; rich cinematography and natural, committed performances. A complex tapestry about life, love and chances rued that's built around the constructs of a thriller. It excels in everything it challenges and that's exactly where it's strengths lie. Mark Walker
    Mark W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 20, 2013
    I know when I think of a tight, tense thriller, I think of Juan José Campanella, a somewhat infamous Argentine romantic-comedy director... I guess, because, as you can probably imagine, I'm not really one to keep up with Argentine cinema. Shoot, even when the noirish thriller film that he did before this film was titled "Love Walked In", and if you hear that title and get kind of excited at the thought of a Van Halen song, then you should probably slap yourself, because a Van Hagar ballad is hardly all that hardcore. Of course, with this thriller, well, "we ain't talkin' 'bout love", which is good, because Campanella can now show his capabilities as a thriller director to his Argentine buddies, who I'd imagine joined most everyone else in not seeing "Love Walked In". This film, on the other hand, is about as popular as an Argentine film is gonna get, and that's good, even though the standard for this kind of film when it comes to money-making is so weak that even when good ol', hot-blooded 'Merican Steven Soderbergh did a sprawling film about an infamous Argentine, not a whole lot of people went to see it. Well, in all fairness, "Che" isn't exactly thrilling enough to be all that appealing, and besides, it's a Spanish-speaking film that was relatively big in Europe, so it probably leans closer to being Italian. Ignorant American jokes aside, it's not like Campanella doesn't have a history of doing tense thrillers, because through the wonderful world of television, he's knocked out a bit of 2003's "Dragnet", as well as plenty of "Law & Order", and, of course, the most disturbing thing of all "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List". Needless to say, this thriller isn't quite as chilling as spending a bit too much time with Kathy Griffin, but it'll still hold your attention, though not as much as I would like it to, because as decent as this thriller is, it's not without its lapses in the the thrills department, and for numerous reasons. Now, your garden variety straightfoward crime thriller isn't likely to take home something as big as Best Foreign Language Film from the Oscars, so of course there are some layers to this tale, and plenty of them work just fine, while certain others don't quite gel like they probably should, whether when we're dealing with a bit of comic relief that stands to be incorporated more organically, or facing the occasional spell in which this film's subplots find themselves taking over the core of this thriller a bit too firmly. Tonal inconsistency isn't a huge problem in here, but it is nevertheless an issue, no matter how limited it may be in quantity, though not quite as much as pacing unevenness. The film isn't all over the place in its momentum, but focus in this storytelling's pacing is hardly as tight as it should be, leaving you to find yourself a bit thrown off as you rather messily slip back and forth between this film's extremes in momentum, whose own issues go brought more to light by the film's issues with pacing layering, with relatively hurried spots - of which there are only so many - feeling quite detrimental to the depth of exposition, particularly when it comes to immediate development, which is too thin for you to gain all that firm of a grip on the characters who drive this story. The film does have its hurried spells, and stands to be more fleshed out in quite a few places, and yet, it isn't too terribly rushed, nor is all that underdeveloped, so if no other problematic pacing moments do serious damage to the final product, it is the slow spots, of which there are many, because as engaging as this thriller gets to be, when slowness hits the scene, it hits hard, quieting things down and dragging things out, often to the point of inspiring dullness. If the film's slowness brings forth nothing else, it's repetition, because even with all of the intrigue that can be found within certain layers to this film, after a while, the final product finds itself treading circles that, after a while, lost more of my investment than it should have. The film hangs on the hinges of rewarding, and will quite often fall through, but on the whole, as decent as this film is, it could have been stronger, being too uneven, undercooked, slow and repetitious to be be what it could have been, much less what they say it is. Still, regardless of its deal of shortcomings, this film pulls through just enough when it's all said and enough to keep you going, which is good, because it is something of a long wait before you get around to some good tunes in this film. Something of a soft-spoken thriller, this film all but rarely plays up musicality, and when it does, its musical tastes are rather minimalist, so it's not like Federico Jusid's and Emilio Kauderer's score work is all that upstanding, but make no mistake, what pieces of score work that are, in fact, delivered in this film do indeed deliver, rarely to the point of being all that sharp, but certainly to the point of taking on a distinctly Spanish soul that is musically lovely and, at times, complimentary to substance's kick. Jusid's and Kauderer's musical efforts are far from stellar, but they're almost just as far away from underwhelmingness, being well-crafted enough, and soulful enough, to help in defining this film, no matter how underused it may be as a component to the telling of a reasonably intriguing story. Speaking of which, when it comes to this film's story, as I said, things get sloppy, and not just because this film's story concept is hardly all that refreshing, as there isn't as much kick as there should be within this execution of promising plot ideas, and that does a number on intrigue, something that is hardly thinned out too much, for although this tale stands to be weaved with more engagement value, its concept is worthile, and its execution has its moments, and enough of them to dilute predictability, especially when backed by commendable spots in storytelling. Eduardo Sacheri's and Juan José Campanella's script may be more detrimental to the final product than Campanelli's directorial storytelling, but there are indeed some improvable areas of Campanelli's direction, which is still commendable enough to help the film to its state of borderline bonafide goodness, often livening things up with innovative stylistic touches, - which range from nifty imagery to a somewhat lengthy scene that kicks off with a fly-over establishing view of an environment, and culminates with an elaborate chase sequence, and is amzingly captured entirely in one continuous shot - and sometimes keeping your investment adequately sustained through some plays with atmosphere that are, in fact, confident. I don't find Campanella's efforts to be as assured as they say, but the film's highest points are fairly strong, and they owe their being achieved almost entirely to the effective moments in direction, which is hardly not helped by some talented onscreen forces that do a lot to carry this film. Rotten Tomatoes' consensus deems the performances within this cast "mesmerizing", and I disagree, or at least to a certain degree, because even though our performers' material is consistently rich, when this cast of talent finds something to do, you can expect some memorable performances, whether it be from a notably charming Guillermo Francella, or a femininely strong Soledad Villamil, or the charismatic, genuinely convincing and altogether compelling Ricardo Darín. This film's acting department could have hit harder, but it's still quite strong, and I wish I could the same about this film in general, because this is a promising project that finds itself undercut by its shortcomings, though so much so that you're unable to stick with the film just enough, with the help of commendable artistic and atmospheric touches that compliment a worthwhile story concept, for it to all but come to the state of bonafide goodness that the film stands to achieve more surely. To close this case, the occasional piece of tonal unevenness throws off momentum, though not as much as pacing unevenness, which is bookended by hurried spells that thin out development value, and by plenty of slow spells that dull things up, and draw enough repetition out of storytelling for the final product to fall as relatively underwhelming, though just by a little more than a hair, as there is enough elegance to the score, moments of inspiration to Juan José Campanella's stylish direction, and consistent inspiration to acting to make "The Secret in Their Eyes" a reasonably enjoyable dramatic thriller that falls just short of truly good, but is still worthy of the attention of your "eyes" (Get it?). 2.75/5 - Decent
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Apr 25, 2012
    This movie reminds me a little of Oldboy or Tell No One; it's a rivetting crime drama tied together by really endearing and human characters. This movie makes a point of letting you get to know all the characters and seeing their fears , goofiness and pettiness - all the things that make them human, basically - and uses them to anchor the investigation into a decades-old crime. Every single character in this movie is interesting and genuine: the villains aren't devoid of moral fibre, and the heroes aren't free from feelings of bitterness and selfishness. I really appreciated the time they took to hash out these people's motivations and relationships. The Secret in Their Eyes also reminded me a little of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but much less mean-spirited. This is not the kind of movie I usually go for, but I am so glad that I saw it.
    Emily A Super Reviewer

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