The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Classic Pictures - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 129 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): Spanish/French DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Starring: Ricardo Darin, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago, Javier Godino, Guillermo Francella
Directed by: Juan Jose Campanella
Music by: Jusid-Kauderer
Written by: Eduardo Sacheri & Juan Jose Campanella
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 21, 2010
Recently retired criminal court investigator Benjamin (Ricardo Darin), decides to write a novel based on a twenty-five year old unresolved rape and murder case, which still haunts him. Sharing his plans with Irene (Soledad Villamil), the beautiful judge and former colleague he has secretly been in love with for years, Benjamin's initial involvement with the case is shown through flashbacks, as he sets out to identify the murderer. But Benjamin's search for the truth will put him at the center of a judicial nightmare, as the mystery of the heinous crime continues to unfold in the present, testing the limits of a man seeking justice and personal fulfillment at last.
My Take:Based on the novel by Eduardo Sacheri The secret in their eyes is an interesting sort of parallel as it tells two stories. One is a romance and the other is criminal investigation. I describe it as a parallel of sorts because to be a true parallel the two wouldn't converge. In reality the elements that do crossover have little to do with the outcome but neither can properly exist without the other. The film begins with a briefly narrated snippet that depicts what appear to be two lovers. The man is on a train while the woman stands on the train platform watching the train pull off. She begins to run after the train as the narration and imagery trails off. Things switch to the story's present with Benjamin Esposito a retired public prosecutor struggling to put together the beginning of a book he is writing that is based on a 25 year old rape/murder case. With that there is a similar snippet, basked in glowing golden light, involving a young couple. It depicts a radiant young woman (obviously the murder/rape victim) and describes what is to be their last breakfast/morning together. The case's outcome has nagged at him for years and he struggles with aspects of it that never felt fully resolved.
Benjamin stops by to see his ex-boss Irene, who is the equivalent of a district attorney (although she is referred to as your honor), at his old job. It's obvious that Irene and Benjamin are old friends and he tells her about his book, its subject matter and they briefly reacquaint/reminisce. Essentially from that point forward the story moves back and forth flashing back to the mid 1970's and returning to the present (within the story), the late 1990's. Much of the meat of the film takes place in the past as we see how Irene and Benjamin meet, the politics associated with their jobs, and of course the brutal murder/rape scene and how/why Benjamin takes an against all odds interest in solving it. Amidst that is the development of the relationship between Benjamin and Irene. There are obvious boundaries as she is his supervisor however they share a mutual and unspoken attraction that underlies their friendship. With the criminal investigation growing cold and interest from above waning Benjamin comes up with a long shot lead that he and co-worker/best friend Pablo pursue. The outcome leads to discovering not only the truth about the case but to a crossroad for Irene and Benjamin. The path they chose will haunt them for the next 25 years.
The secret in their eyes is a well crafted, engrossing and gratifying film that splits genre lines but never suffers from focus issues or poor pacing. Character development is essential to the story's framework and is excellent. The multi-perspective narrative draws us in by connecting us with the murder/rape victim and establishing a bond between characters that bridge both timelines which derives the most from the film's final moments. Initially the romantic aspects of the story aren't made to feel overtly important but come full circle with an integral role as they speak to the outcome of missed opportunities based upon the fear of emotional risks and the potential of their longstanding effects. The integration of mystery and bolstering of our contempt for the perpetrator of the rape/murder through use of visuals both graphic and subtle are effective and cleverly executed. Over the course of the film we experience solace in the looming idea of redemption, hope in the anticipation of romance, and jarring reality in the depiction of dark events and fallible people that revolve around the violent death of a beautiful young woman. Director Juan Jose Campanella's apt direction is augmented by Felix Monti's superb cinematography and the solid performances by leads Ricardo Darin, and Soledad Villamil. I found this to be an excellent film that's strength lies in its thoroughly fleshed out and compelling story which comes together in an apropos and ultimately satisfying way. Bravo.
The rating is for a rape scene, violent images, some graphic nudity and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The secret in their eyes comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.9 Mbps.
The film is portrayed via two subtly different visual styles. The flashback sequences utilize a muted color scheme and slightly scaled back contrast which gives images a flatter less dynamic appearance. When things switch to the present colors have more emphasis with deeper primary focus and bolder use of contrast. Blacks are fairly strong and detail in dark areas and shadowy backgrounds is excellent. Resolution is good overall however due to the nature of the photography definitive sharpness and fine detail perception ebbs and flows. These instances don't completely inhibit the ability to visually resolve the structure of objects within the frame but slightly diminish it. Conversely there were times when images have excellent dimensional depth and sparkling clarity. Grain is present in fine even layers, with the exception of the opening sequence where it is intentionally pronounced. I thought that the look of the film mated quite well with the nature of the story.
The DTS-HD MA soundtrack delivers dialogue that is crisp, tonally descriptive and well articulated. The front three channels handle the bulk of the sound and do so with excellent clarity and imaging. The surround channels and sub see occasional use and appropriately support this dialogue driven presentation with ambient effects and bass reproduction that matched those required by the film's elements.
*CIH users should note that the subtitles appear within the picture area. *
- Commentary with director Juan Jose Campanella
- Behind the scenes of The secret in their eyes - 4 minute featurette
- Casting The secret in their eyes: auditions - 10 minutes
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- BD-Live enabled
- (HD) Previews: A prophet, Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, Mimics, The white ribbon, Get low, The pillars of the earth, Please give, Animal kingdom
Based on the novel by Eduardo Sacheri The secret in their eyes is a well crafted, engrossing and gratifying film that features a multi-perspective narrative that engages with a rewarding storyline, fleshed out characters and excellent production elements. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony in a technically solid offering that features resplendent high definition video, clear lossless sound and an average set of bonus supplements that are highlighted be a director commentary track. The secret in their eyes on Blu-ray is highly recommended viewing and deserves a spot at the top of your rental queue.
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