The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

WEEKENDER / Entertainment

March 23, 2012

Mystery, romance in one great film

ROBERT LEBZELTER / VIDEO VIPER

“The Secret in Their Eyes” is an  absorbing, enthralling drama, mystery, thriller and romance.

Released in 2009 from Argentina, the story relies heavily on flashbacks as it chronicles retired Argentinean federal justice agent Benjamin Esposito.

Ricardo Darin plays Esposito, who decides to write a novel based on his most unforgettable case, that of a woman who is raped and murdered.

Now when I say “write,” I mean “write.” He scrawls his prose across lined paper, trying to fictionalize this great story.

Despite it being fiction, Esposito seeks a truth and accuracy, if not downright closure on the case.

He decides to revisit his old boss, Irene Menendez-Hastings, played by Soledad Villamil, to discuss the case and gain her insight.

From there we slip from 1999 back to the mid 1970s, when Darin’s character has no gray in his beard and the Villamil character is new on the job.

Darin is moved, probably more than he expected, when he sees the body of the young victim at a murder scene.

He and his partner, Pablo Sandoval, played by Guillermo Francella, work tirelessly to solve the crime. How indeed do they determine who the killer is?

We watch as they pore through old albums of the victim in her younger years. In many pictures, there is a young man who can’t take his eyes off of her. The look is so intense and all-consuming, the investigators just know from that this must be the killer.

Javier Godino plays Isidoro Gomez, a soccer fan and possible cold-blooded killer and rapist.

At the time his identity is discovered, Gomez is out of the country.

The victim’s husband, Ricardo Morales, played by Pablo Rago, is a soft spoken individual who spends his afternoons after his bank job staking out train, plane and bus stations, hoping to find the individual who killed his wife.

Eventually, the suspect is caught, is tricked into confessing and goes to jail for life, at least that’s what Esposito has promised.

So it is an even bigger surprise when the convicted killer is released early because he helped authorities in even bigger cases.

What’s even more of a surprise is when Sandoval is brutally gun down.

The characters are well-drawn and multifaceted. Every move, every sentence brings new light to the situation. This is a well written and complete story with an excellent cast to go with it.

Nothing predictable here. The costumes, makeup and sets are to perfection as well. They add to the atmosphere.

At the autumn of the film, we see these characters nearing the end of their lives. The Morales character especially appears to have evolved and accepted his life and the death of his beloved wife years earlier.

Or so we assume.

Take nothing for granted in this film. If you think the movie is about to end with a Hollywood-type conclusion, think again. It continues to evolve.

“The Secret in their Eyes” is Argentina’s most viewed cinema since 1983. An American version is apparently in production.

Besides DVD and Blu-ray, it is available through Amazon Instant Video. It is more than worth its 129-minute runtime.

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