Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - The New Mex­i­can

The Se­cret in Their Eyes, ro­man­tic thriller, rated R, in Span­ish with sub­ti­tles, Re­gal DeVargas, 3.5 chiles In many ways, Juan José Cam­panella’s film The Se­cret in Their Eyes is the story of two men emo­tion­ally tied to­gether by a dead woman. The movie picked up the Academy Award for Best For­eign Lan­guage Film of 2009, and its strength lies in its abil­ity to suc­ceed on two lev­els: as a love story and as a sus­pense thriller. But it has its share of flaws too, in­clud­ing a cou­ple of hokey scenes that seem to have been plucked out of Amer­i­can TV crime dra­mas — no sur­prise, since Cam­panella’s ré­sumé in­cludes di­rect­ing a num­ber of such pro­grams.

But over­all, the di­rec­tion and act­ing can­not be faulted. It’s a film in which the eyes do a lot of the talk­ing, and one in which the main ac­tors suc­cess­fully por­tray ver­sions of their char­ac­ters that are more than 20 years apart as the film moves back and forth from the mid-1970s to 2000. The mo­ti­va­tions of the two lead char­ac­ters — Ben­jamín Es­pos­ito (Ri­cardo Darín) and Irene Menén­dez Hast­ings (Soledad Vil­lamil) — are never in doubt as both ac­tively pur­sue their goals: jus­tice and love.

The story con­cerns Ar­gentina in 1974 — just be­fore the so-called “Dirty War” en­veloped the nation in death and dis­ap­pear­ances — when jus­tice was not easy to at­tain. Es­pos­ito is an hon­est cop (called a chief jus­tice) in a dis­hon­est racket. Hast­ings — a high-bred beauty — is his su­pe­rior of­fi­cer. They work for the govern­ment, solv­ing crimes in be­tween flirt­ing, drink­ing, and fil­ing ever-mount­ing piles of pa­per­work.

Their rou­tine quickly changes af­ter Es­pos­ito is as­signed to a rape/murder case. Upon see­ing the bro­ken, bruised body of the vic­tim, Es­pos­ito de­cides that he wants to pun­ish the killer. But he is baf­fled as his bosses (aside from Hast­ings), sub­or­di­nates,

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