Today I saw The Secret in Their Eyes, starring Ricardo Darin and Soledad Villamil.
What do you get when you cross a murder mystery with unrequited love that's simmered for 25 years? A hell of a great movie.
When the film opens we see Benjamin (Darin) struggling at his writing desk, trying to purge the haunting remnants of a brutal rape and murder from his mind. We soon learn this was a real case that he worked on 25 years ago as an investigator, and he's never been able to shake it. So, he's making a book based on his memories of it.
Next, we meet the woman he's adored for all these years—Irene (Villamil), who worked with him on the case and is now an accomplished judge. She is acting as a casual editor/admirer, sharing in his violent trip down memory lane.
Before I give the impression that this is a "flashback" movie, let me be clear in saying that it doesn't feel like it. Though it takes place both in 1974 and 2000, the audience is never tossed between the two unexpectedly.
The crime itself is ghastly, and we see just enough of it to register horror and want justice for the victim. The suspects are clear in their innocence and guilt, which is one of the genius elements of the script: we already know whodunnit. Unlike most stories, what we crave to learn is how the characters arrived in their present—seemingly peaceful—situations.
There are also supporting characters who are far more compelling than the main two. Sandoval (Guillermo Francella) is Benjamin's drunken sidekick we root for; a grieving widow of the victim is so calm, we figure there must be more to his story.
Of course the romance between our writer and his former colleague is what drives the tension throughout the film. Like perfectly written star-crossed lovers, they're attraction is undeniable, but their circumstances common: one of the two feels that they can never be together, so both spend agonizing years wondering what would happen if they could.
The movie teaches us that denying what our heart desires can sometimes lead to a life of purgatory, and our eyes hold the secrets of our truth.