'The Secret in Their Eyes' feels like a movie that I should really like, but I just didn't. It's got an enormous 90 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and even won the Best Foreign Film Oscar over the likes of 'The White Ribbon.' So I have to enjoy it right?
Benjamin (Ricardo Darin) is haunted by an investigation in which a woman was raped and murdered. The case has stuck with him all these years, and now he's decided to write a novel about it. Benjamin isn't a writer, but this is one of those stories that seems to write itself.
The husband of the murdered woman is distraught, and beside himself. He waits day after day at the local train station, hoping he can catch the supposed killer and take matters into his own hands. The alleged killer is brought in and questioned. There's no doubt he did it. Whodunit, isn't the driving force of this film. After capturing the killer, Benjamin then learns that government bureaucracy has led to the killer's release, in order for him to help them with other cases.
The movie flashes back and forth through Benjamin's life. First we see him as an older man, wrinkles have formed on his face, his hair has turned gray. He's decided to write his book. When thinking back on the case the movie flashes back to a younger, more vibrant Benjamin as he tries his hardest to keep his own life together while dealing with this intense case.
Throwing even more onto the fire is a forbidden love story between Benjamin and his boss at the justice building, Irene. He's loved her all his life, but never had the guts to tell her. Maybe it's this love story that makes the movie feel all wrong and slightly contrived. There's nothing about their love or passion that feels genuine. They're cold and distant, and even when the movie is trying to get us to root for their togetherness it's hard to believe.
'The Secret in Their Eyes' does have some nice emotional moments, especially concerning Benjamin's good (drunk) friend, who has a moment of realization that will almost bring a tear to your eye.
The plot moves at a snails pace, and when the end is revealed, it's not so much a shocking secret as it is a slight surprise. 'The Secret in Their Eyes' feels like an art house movie. It looks artsy. It feels artsy. But it seems to take certain aspects from dramas we've seen a hundred times before (like a deluge of flashbacks that comes just at the right moment for the main character to figure out exactly what's going on). Just because the narrative plays out slowly and thoughtfully, that doesn't mean the elements are wholly original or satisfying.
Sony has treated 'The Secret in Their Eyes' with care. The 1080p transfer looks just as it should.
A thin layer of grain is intact to give it a very filmic feel, while fine detail still looks rather good. Maybe you'll even notice that the fine detail makes the makeup, which is used to make the actors look old, looks sort of fake. Even then, the detail is nicely rendered with pours and age lines perfectly visible on the characters. Colors are resonant, even though they've been played with slightly for dramatic effect. When Benjamin visits the countryside during the final act, the color seems to have been drained from the surroundings on purpose, offering a very bleak feel. This isn't a problem with the transfer though, the lack of color is done solely for the overall look of the film. Other colors like red and green pop. Blacks are heavy, but never crushing. Deep shadows offer great detail as actors pass in and out of them. I did catch a handful of errant flecks that popped up, but it was never a frequent occurrence that ended up distracting.
Even though I wasn't the biggest fan of this movie, the video presentation is splendid.
'The Secret in Their Eyes' is presented with a Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation (the disc defaults to play the Spanish language track with English subtitles when you put it in). This movie is very talky and lacks many, if any, special sound effects (except for the occasional gunshot). The dialogue is presented cleanly through the center channels, with whispers being audible and clear. The original music from Federico Jusid and Emilio Kauderer is given ample room to percolate, but it rarely bleeds into the rear speakers. Speaking of the rear channels, they remain pretty silent throughout the film. There aren't many scenes where a surround sound effect would help. LFE is the real loser here, not even engaging much during the soundtrack of the film. My sub woofer has a power saving feature built into it, and if it isn't being used it will turn itself off and wait until some low frequency is sent its way to kick back in. The power saving feature turned my sub off two times while I watching this one. It's not like the film needed bass, but there are some pretty intense scenes that could've been helped (in my opinion) by some low end frequencies. I know leaving LFE out of the sound design must have been a conscious choice, but even when it's supposed to be engaged, like when guns are firing, it's still very quiet, leaving much of the work to the front and rear speakers.
I can't really put my finger on the exact reason, but I just didn't like 'The Secret in Their Eyes.' The more I think about it, the more bored I was. Thinking that this film won Best Foreign Picture over 'The White Ribbon' makes me a little mad, but that's that. You'll find a ton of other critics out there who totally disagree with me, and that's fine. To me it wasn't touching, exciting, or very entertaining. All in all, kind of a slog to get through. For those of you interested in seeing this Oscar winner, the video looks great, but the audio could use a little kick in the pants. Overall, I'd recommend renting this one.