El secreto de sus ojos

El secreto de sus ojos (Juan José Campanella, 2009)

Winner of the 2009 Academy award for Best Foreign Film, El secreto de sus ojos is an interesting chase story. Like Hitchcock always said, a great story is where the chase is better than the catch. A good example of this theory is David Fincher’s mind gripping Zodiac, where we follow the protagonist’s investigation/obsession around the Bay area to find one of the most famous serial killer cases.

El secreto de sus ojos begins like many films, it tells a story set in the past told by the central character until we get where he is to conclude in the “present”. Freshly retired, court investigator, decides to write a novel about a case of rape and murder he worked on 25 years ago. The story, told in episodes from the discovery of the body to the “present” is really well handled and reminds of the great investigation stories of the Hollywood of the 1970’s, “à la” Alan J. Pakula.
The film’s structure opens with a dream-like with a sequence of unconnected events where the faces of the characters are hard to distinguish. This prologue announces the pivots of the story. It’s interesting because it creates déjà vus for the viewer and the feeling of assembling a puzzle together. This is a very efficient approach that keeps the tension and the awareness.
Like the title of the film announces, translated to The Secret In Their Eyes, the actors had to nuance their play to get this subtle touch of telling their emotions with their eyes without overplaying or being simple caricatures. The bunch of actors is almost unknown for North American audiences letting an easier identification with the different characters that populate that interesting film.

El secreto de sus ojos, is a riveting investigation that, by moments, reminded me of the great films by David Fincher: Zodiac, Se7en, The Social Network. Films that not only investigate on crimes or actions but also on the human behaviour and the many human interactions while these events occur. It reminded me of them, but, yes there’s a but, it definitively lacks of depth in the general intrigue of it all. However, some aspects of the script could have been done tighter especially the clichés of the classic investigation story could have been cut out and be more concentrated on the darker aspects. When you compare it to the other Foreign films nominated that year, Un prophète and Das Weisse Band (The White Ribbon), this is a much more lesser film especially in the depth of the story.


  1. Yeah, it was good but nowhere near as great as the other two nominees you mentioned.

    I think it won because the other two films split the Auteur vote and it got all the "Hollywood" votes.

  2. I couldn't agree more with Bonjour Tristesse! Un prophète and Das Weisse Band were almost masterpieces.

    El secreto de sus ojos feels more like a foreign film trying to go Hollywood! Like another film I didn't much appreciated, The Life of Others...

  3. I agree, this was a good mystery film. I really didn't see end coming and thought the performances were very good.
    But it was nowhere near as great as Un Prophete, I think that film should have one.
    The White Ribbon was strange, I really don't know how I feel about that film...

    Great review!

  4. Thanks for reading and commenting Jack!


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