Thursday, October 29, 2009

El Secreto de sus Ojos (The Secret of Her Eyes)

I wonder if I ever saw any of the American TV work Juan Jose Campanella has done in the USA; but I have seen some of the shows like House M.D., 30 Rock and Law & Order Criminal Intent where he has directed some episodes. I do not recall having seen any of his movies but now after watching this movie I’m interested in watching more of his Argentinean work. Yes this movie is good, very fast attention grabber, entertaining and somehow resembling good old-fashion cinema so good that made me think I was watching a film by Hitchcock.

Most call it cinema noir and it is; but this drama, romance, humor, crime, thriller and Argentinean justice dissection looks and feels mainstream; yet, at the same time is artish as has slowish pace, excellent frame compositions with many close-ups, constant chiaroscuro in indoor scenes, great outdoor cinematography, extraordinary performances by leads (especially Ricardo Darin) and a director -who also edited- that created flawless narration even when it moves back and forth in time.

If this movie was an American production I would not be that impressed as has the high production values most Hollywood movies have. But being an Argentina and Spain production the film really raises the standard for other mainstream filmmakers in the Latin American region.

What impressed me the most is how Campanella was able to find a superb cinematic visual and narrative language to tell so much about Argentinians idiosyncrasy that you will highly enjoy if you’re familiar with them and you also will highly enjoy if you know nothing about Argentina and/or Argentinians. Obviously co writing the script with Eduardo Sacheri, who wrote the novel, had to help the narrative; but the visual language, the fabulous screen chemistry between Ricardo Darin and Soledad Villamil, and the dry humor of Guillermo Francella belongs to a great director.

Some have criticized one aspect and I tend to agree, the many faux finales in the last third of the movie. I think that the movie impeccable flow was cut with the first black screen that suggested the end; but when it was it was repeated again and again, it was too much. There was no need to lead viewers to think that the film is over, the great story didn't needed the gimmick.

So, what’s the story about? On the surface is about a Judge Office clerk that after retiring decides to write his first novel. The novel will tell about a case that changed his life, his boss life and his co-worker’s life. The case: rape and murder of a beautiful young woman. So you see the present when Esposito (Ricardo Darin) is writing the novel and you see the past flawlessly intertwined. But below the surface the story is about social class differences, power abuse, the lightness of justice, empty lives, old age, revenge, impotence, powerless, honesty, forgetting what you still remember but don’t want to recall, eternal love, obsession and gee, so many more things that make the story really interesting.

I liked the movie as is entertaining with an artish style. I have the impression that the film has a cinematic language that Academy members are familiar and will easily understand; so, I wouldn’t be surprised if the movie makes the list of 5 nominated for the Best Foreign Language film at the upcoming Oscars, which will mean another top honor in the list of honors that the film has been collecting since was premiered at the 2009 San Sebastian fest where won the top honor.

If you’re familiar with Latin American cinema you have to see this movie to realize how high the bar has gone for other mainstream filmmakers in the area. The film is suited for adult audiences that want to enjoy a good film that will grab their attention fast and hold it until the very end.

Me, I’ll watch everything with Ricardo Darin and here he is extraordinary!!!


Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion

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