The Academy Awards are famously flawed—Hitchcock, Garbo and Cary Grant never won an Oscar—but, nonetheless, each year there’s at least one category that provokes outrage among critics. In 2010, the big shock was in Foreign Film, where two masterpieces were vying for top spot, Michael Haneke’s pre-Nazi German mystery The White Ribbon and Jacques Audiard’s dark contemporary French prison drama A Prophet. So imagine the surprise and consternation when a relatively unknown Argentine thriller The Secret in Their Eyes grabbed the prize instead.
Juan Campanella’s film is being released in Canada now and, to be fair, it comes festooned with other major awards including Spain’s Goyas, the Argentine Oscars and a top prize at the prestigious Havana Film Festival. Set in Argentina in two time periods, 1974 and 1999, the compellingly told tale revolves around a brutal murder and rape case that transfixes two men: Benjamin Esposito, the investigator from the Justice Department and Ricardo Morales, a banking official whose wife was the victim of the crime.
When Romano, a police inspector, tries to pin the murder on a couple of blue colour workers, Esposito flies into action, getting their charges dismissed. He makes an enemy of Romano and finds himself enmeshed in the case, compulsively trying to solve Morales’ wife’s murder. Through a series of old photos, Esposito figures out that an old classmate of the woman, Isidoro Gomez, was obsessed with her—and decides that he’s the murderer…(READ MORE)