The Secret In Their Eyes (2009)

Netflix sent me this Argentinean crime thriller from 2009, and I must thank them for it. It brilliantly integrates the personal, the political, and the pathological, and if you haven’t caught it yet, do yourself a favor and find it. It’s not on Netflix streaming just now, but it is available on Blu-Ray and DVD and can be purchased on Amazon Instant and iTunes.

The Secret In Their Eyes follows two timelines, starting in 2009 with an aging, retired detective who’s composing a novel about his most troubling case–1974 rape and murder of a young school teacher. He visits an old friend, with whom he is in love, who supports his desire to write and suggests (sensibly enough) that he start at the beginning. The action moves then to 1974, the devastated husband of the victim, the conflict between the detective’s court and another court that arrests suspects for political reasons.

The detective’s investigation leads him to focus on an itinerant laborer with a passion for the local football club. At the suggestion of a partner, who says that while a man can change his name, his family, his religion, or any other part of himself, he can’t change his passion, he and his cops stake out a football match. They find the suspect, get him to confess, and send him to what everyone thinks will be a life sentence. But months later, the suspect resurfaces, out of prison and seemingly happy. It turns out that another magistrate freed him because, while the traits of sadism and misogyny are generally frowned upon among ordinary citizens, they’re positive boons in members of government death squads.

I won’t spoil things by going further, except to say that, while you’ll never see the end of The Secret In Their Eyes coming (and I’ve seen all the tricks), it will strike you as not just clever and inevitable but exactly right. All the movie’s themes collide, and they left me feeling humbled, sad, but at the same time uplifted.

So see it, live it, love it, be it.

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