Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Ricardo Darìn
Soledad Villamil
Pablo Rago.
Directors
Juan José Campanella.
Screenwriters
Juan José Campanella.
Running Time
129 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Annie
2 Star Empire Rating
Theory Of Everything, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Bringing Tibet Home
3 Star Empire Rating
Kon-Tiki
4 Star Empire Rating
Enemy
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
5 Star Empire Rating

The Secret In Their Eyes
Argentinian Oscar-winner delivers in spades


submit to reddit


Plot
Argentina. Retired lawyer Benjamin Esposito (Darìn) visits his old colleague Irene Hastings (Villamil) with a manuscript he has written about ‘the Morales case’, a 1974 rape/murder which has had repercussions ever since. Talking through the mystery, Esposito reveals what he has found out, but also his own long-suppressed feelings.


Review
The Secret In Their Eyes
The Oscar for Best Foreign Language film is often controversial as heavy-hitters are shoved aside for odd, often political choices and heads get scratched all round. Last year, Germany’s The White Ribbon and France’s A Prophet seemed to be neck-and-neck for the top spot, but an unheralded Argentine thriller crept in and walked off with the statuette. Now, we get to see it, and cynicism about the voters of Beverly Hills evaporates because this is as enthralling a piece of cinema as the competition with the added bonus of having a heart. The Secret In Their Eyes feels like a world-class episode of Law & Order, set in a fascist state where bringing a culprit to justice isn’t easy and the government’s notions of right and wrong override petty concerns like who got raped and beaten to death.

It’s a profoundly human story, with a superb lead performace from Ricardo Darìn (the older con-man in Nine Queens) as a dogged yet hangdog investigating lawyer with a lifelong crush on his upper-class boss.

Written and directed by Juan José Campanella, from a novel by Eduardo Sacheri, this is a long, confident film. Its first act sets up a horrible crime, and shows how the hero’s sense of obligation to the victim’s husband (Pablo Rago) — as much for his ability to remain selflessly in love with the idealised dead woman as for any sense of duty — gets him in trouble when he refuses to prosecute two low-class workmen who have been battered into a confession.

A likely culprit is identified, loitering in the dead woman’s family photos, and the trail goes cold until a drunken colleague makes the vital deduction that a killer can change his name more easily than the football team he supports. This sets up a breathtaking, apparent single-take shot which outdoes Brian De Palma: a stadium is seen from above on match night, and the camera moves into the stands, among the throngs, throughout the concrete bowels and out onto the pitch — with the game still playing — as cops close in on the suspect.

The film seems to wrap up its story in mid-point, but there are stunning reversals, one of the scariest (but most understated) lift scenes ever shot, a telling ambiguity, more tragedies and two astonishing endings left...


Verdict
Humane and harrowing, highly recommended. This one will stay with you.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Secret In Their Eyes
Empire Star Rating

RE: RE:

Saw this for the first time last night. It was ok, I'm not sure it deserves the praise it received, to be honest. Soledad Villamil gave the best performance but the rest (and the film) were a bit melodramatic I found. The stadium sequence was terrific, though. It was, dare I say, run of the mill? Middle of the road? The 'old' make up was pretty crap, though. ... More

Posted by UTB at 09:09, 23 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE:

Saw this for the first time last night and really enjoyed it. The stadium sequence is particular was a stand-out. Still scratching my head about how it was accomplished. Not surprised it won the Oscar, but last year had some very strong contenders. ... More

Posted by Timon at 09:55, 10 January 2013 | Report This Post


A quite wonderful piece of cinema about how we spend our lives, with an ending that'll leave you breathless. Beautiful sets and use of colours to convey past, present and memory, reminiscent of' 'Once Upon A Time in America' as Darin's character, Esposito flits back and forth from '70's Argentina to the present. With much social commentary and subtle acting, often what dialogue is intended, never has to be, and expressed through clever film-making and acting of the highest calibre. No wonder ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gzus at 14:30, 12 March 2011 | Report This Post


RE: the bride

Picked this up last week from the market for £2! Watched it out of total curiousity. Really glad I did as this is hands down my favourite film of the last two years (along with Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). The ending in particular, left me thinking about it long afterwards. This was a couple of hours of my time that reminded me why I love movies so much. Please god, don't let hollywood butcher this with a remake...Easiest five stars I've given to a film. See. It. Now. ***** ... More

Posted by film man aidy at 20:24, 03 March 2011 | Report This Post


RE: the bride

i totally agree!!! ... More

Posted by Harri Singh at 14:36, 03 March 2011 | Report This Post


The Secret In Their Eyes

One of the best movies I seen for a long time. Definitely deserved an oscar. This movie has everything such as politics, humour, corruption, love, mystery and murder all in a well constructed plot. the performances are top notch and u can tell. This movie also carries a vibrant and beautiful feeling whilst watching and it is never boring. i just became a fan of Ricardo Darn from watching this and decided to rent nine queens, good movie but not as good as this. if u love good movies, do youreslf... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Harri Singh at 14:30, 03 March 2011 | Report This Post


the bride

if ever a movie deserved its 5 stars weighted in gold this is the one for me. heres a few reasons for my opening line, firstly this picture looks beautifull its classy and seems to have a style all its own, also the story is strong in the end i was putting myself in the position of the murdered girls husband and it raised a lot of thought in my limited mind but what made me love this movie was the characters i liked ricardo darin so much i ran out and bought Nine Queens its worth a watch, i must... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gordon livey at 18:20, 09 February 2011 | Report This Post


****

Brooding gripping movie really enjoyed it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jerkyjudas at 08:34, 05 February 2011 | Report This Post


Amazing

This film is amazing. The acting is phenomenal, the story brilliant. I didn't want it to end. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by emmagd at 11:22, 18 January 2011 | Report This Post


Pure Cinema

The best film of 2010 without a doubt - this is pure cinema. Brilliantly written, superbly acted and above all beautifully shot - the scene at the football match is breathaking - this film really does have resonance. Love, loss, redemption - I haven't stopped thinking about this film since I saw it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by vipey at 08:37, 26 October 2010 | Report This Post


The Oscar winner of 2009's Best Foreign Film, The Secret in Their Eyes is one of the best films of the decade. Its pure simplicity is its greatest strenght, as it allows its significant themes of passion and regret to shine through and captivate their audience. Campanella's directing skills are wondrous, perfectly uniting with his superb script to make something truly exceptional; this is what films should aspire to be. For once, filmgoers will be able to experience proof that explosions and gun... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by djphilips at 19:25, 07 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Secret In Their Eyes

Ignore the low score from the guy who threw a tantrum because this beat his favourite film to the Oscar (seriously, who gives a toss?) and look it up, it's excellent. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Spacegoat at 17:53, 19 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Nothin special

Well it will take some for it to beat the other contenders, but I hear good things, and I look forward to seeing it. ... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 17:46, 19 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Nothin special

L: shady_88 Overrated movie, of Empire empire, You like typical simple story. The White Ribbon is much better movie, that film was suppoued to get Oscar. TSITE is typical movie fir american critics sp; If you think a movie that includes themes of redemption and revenge and leaving the past behind - when that past is specifically troubled times in Argentina - is a 'typical simple story' then I can only completely disagree. Even the surface levels were more complex than that. &nb... More

Posted by elab49 at 14:58, 19 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Secret In Their Eyes

I give 5 statrs to this fim is not boring ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by capazz7 at 14:53, 19 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Secret In Their Eyes

SPOILERS! I saw this last night and I thought it was excellent. I haven't seen The White Ribbon or A Prophet (tales of the razor scene have put me off completely - I'm a wimp!) so I can't compare and can't say whether or not it should have got an Oscar - if the competition was poor then probably, but if it was strong (and by all accounts it was extremely strong - imagine if LTROI had been eligible!) then probably not. As I say, I really enjoyed it, though I am surprised it got 5 star... More

Posted by cheekylou82 at 12:39, 19 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Nothin special

I don't think it's worth getting too upset over the decisions the Academy make given they have a track record of awarding films that go against the consensus of opinion (i.e. Forrest Gump, Crash, the lack of oscar for Hitchcock etc), but that doesn't mean TSITE is a poor film. It's a really good one, just a bit too melodramatic for my liking and not as important as the previously mentioned likes of 'The White Ribbon' & 'A Prophet.' ... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 16:42, 15 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Nothin special

Just to get this, TSITE is a worse film than The White Ribbon becuase it is more conventional? And Avatar? I am not sure what that has to do with the two other films mentioned here. I am pretty sure The White Ribbon has a higher rating. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 14:22, 14 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Nothin special

Deviation The White Ribbon is much better movie than typical TSITE. TWR 4/5 Wtf? Twilight also got 4/5, but this is not the same level. The White Ribbon is almost a masterpiece, one of the greatest german movies of decade, I don't understand why american and britich critics prefer movies like Avatar and TSITE. ... More

Posted by shady_88 at 12:55, 14 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Nothin special

Who cares about Nev? ... More

Posted by Deviation at 19:47, 10 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Nothin special

L: Deviation L: shady_88 Overrated movie, of Empire empire, You like typical simple story. The White Ribbon is much better movie, that film was suppoued to get Oscar. TSITE is typical movie fir american critics hey also liked The White Ribbon, so I think they like the more complex stuff too. lthough Nev didn't.... ... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 04:43, 10 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Nothin special

L: shady_88 Overrated movie, of Empire empire, You like typical simple story. The White Ribbon is much better movie, that film was suppoued to get Oscar. TSITE is typical movie fir american critics hey also liked The White Ribbon, so I think they like the more complex stuff too. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 18:35, 09 August 2010 | Report This Post


Nothin special

Overrated movie, of Empire empire, You like typical simple story. The White Ribbon is much better movie, that film was suppoued to get Oscar. TSITE is typical movie fir american critics ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shady_88 at 17:54, 09 August 2010 | Report This Post


elegant melodrama, but nothing more.

An excellent & beautifully crafted piece of soap operasque melodrama, but that's really all it is. The performances all round are excellent - providing a satisfying amount of humour & heart - whilst some of the sequences are extraordinary - the stadium scene being a prime example. But when it's all done to support a plot with so many shameful contrivances and half-baked solutions one can help feeling a bit cheated. Some will argue that it has political importance and is thematically ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 14:08, 09 August 2010 | Report This Post


SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 69% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire's Three Favourite Scenes Of 2014
A hat-trick of moneyshots from the last 12 months

The 32 Funniest Movie Moments Of The Year
2014's side-splittingest scenes

The 10 Best Games Of The Year
2014's top pixel-pushers duke it out for the number one slot

Dan Stevens: The Breakout Star Of 2014
We congratulate The Guest star on his year to remember

The 15 Most Memorable Character Deaths Of The Year
2014’s RIP honour roll

Watch: Night At The Museum's Cast Share Their Favourite Robin Williams Performance
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Ben Kingsley pay tribute to the actor

Watch: Jack O'Connell And Luke Treadaway Talk Unbroken
On POWs, panto and how to name your bomber

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)