Monday, June 14, 2010

The Secret in Their Eyes

Juan Jose Campanella’s The Secret in Their Eyes is an allegory masquerading as a mystery. There are two key plot points in the film: an unsolved murder and an unresolved relationship. The understanding of the murder is initially what motivates a retired investigator, Benjamin, to write a novel about his past. But it soon becomes apparent that the movie is really about both memory and history. “There are memories and memories of memories,” Benjamin declares at one point. The murder takes place in 1974 during the ascension of Argentinian President Isabel Perón, and the release of the convicted killer is the result of the corruption of her regime, which uses criminals as enforcers. The image of the brutal murder, which is replayed as a flashback throughout the movie, is plainly emblematic of Argentina’s violent past, and the unconsummated relationship between humbly-born Benjamin and the aristocratic Cornell-educated judge, Irene, is in turn representative of class struggle. They are literally and symbolically uneasy bedfellows. Perónism exhibited elements of fascist populism and evolved as such movements do from tensions between numerous groups, including the landed aristocracy that Irene represents—at one point in the movie she actually describes her brothers as feudal lords who can protect Benjamin from the retribution of the killer and his Perónist colleagues. One of the most interesting elements in The Secret in Their Eyes is Benjamin’s ambivalence about Irene. It is he who has rejected her in the past, and in the end when he is finally ready, she is plainly triumphant in being able to tell him to close the door of her office behind him. Stasis is an overarching theme of the film. The murdered woman’s husband is fixated on her picture in just the way that Benjamin is fixated on Irene’s eyes. Benjamin’s ability to finally move and act dramatically augurs the end of a dying social order.

1 comment:

  1. This reviewer really got the message about the corruption of Isabel Peron's regime. The "disappeared" in Argentina started with the extremists form the left, the Montoneros. They were initially allies of Peron but then they wanted to take control of the country especially after he died and his wife Isabel;who was vicepresident, took power.Then the militars took power and caused more "disappeared" whenthey were after the extremists.Nowadays the ex Montoneros Kirchner presidents, currently in power, are after those militars only; while the head of the Montoneros(Mario Firmenich) is free even after several self confessed murders. What is more, several ex-Montoneros are even part of the government! The corruption continues!


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