Dead and Buried
by Brody Rossiter
A story of buried passions, a heinous crime, and a seemingly impossible fight for justice amidst the lawlessness of a land plagued with deep-seated corruption, Argentine crime-thriller, The Secret in Their Eyes, is a powerful and slickly produced example of world cinema at its finest and most compelling.
Primarily set throughout Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’ (1976-1983) – a lawless period of state sponsored terrorism during which thousands of left-wing socialists ‘disappeared’ forever due to the acts of government backed mercenaries – Juan José Campanella’s adaptation of Eduardo Sacheri’s novel, La pregunta de sus ojos, recalls the passionate relationship between judiciary employee, Benjamín Espósito (Ricardo Darin), and fresh-out-of-university judge, Irene Hastings (Soledad Villamil) whilst the pair are immersed in the most costly case of their lives.
After a 23-year-old woman is a brutally raped and murdered, Espósito’s court is tasked with apprehending the offender. Despite the efforts of his superiors to sweep the case under the proverbial dirty carpet, and the underlying distraction of his hidden infatuation with Irene, Espósito’s dedication to the murdered Liliana and her distraught husband forces him down a dangerous and lengthy road, riddled with subterfuge, violence, and startling discoveries spanning several decades.
Winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82ND Academy Awards and standing as the second highest earning picture in Argentina’s box-office history, The Secret in Their Eyes bears many stamps of excellence – extending to the sum of its many accomplished parts. Beautifully realised in terms of both cinematography – including a brilliant five-minute tracking shot sequence during a soccer match – and overall aesthetic dedication to its period setting, The Secret in Their Eyes’ deeply engaging, timeline jumping narrative is both engrossing and poignant in its exploration of an unfulfilled romance and sinister mysteries.
Its formidable cast of characters range from the despicable to the devastated, and its poetic and nuanced narrative will engage you till the final unexpected twist of the knife. The Secret in their Eyes is a beautifully executed and painstakingly produced picture that distils one of Argentina’s darkest periods into an emotive and deeply personal murder mystery.