“The Secret In Their Eyes” (“El secreto de sus ojos”)
A man with a graying beard goes to see
a woman of some importance, a judge in her private chambers, with a young
(male) intern, suitably obsequious. The
mature man and the accomplished woman speak to each other comfortably, but
with endearment, as if there is a significant history to their relationship.
And, perhaps, some unexpressed longing.
The secret is in their eyes.
The man is concerned about a legal case, an unsolved murder from many
years ago. He says that it
continues to haunt him. Obviously,
there are unresolved issues about this case.
But there is something more. Something that indicates a swirling set
of emotions between the two of them. The
secret is in their eyes.
We flash back and forth, when both the man and the woman were much
younger. She was his new boss,
he was some kind of paralegal, not well educated, but street-savvy.
There was something about the horrific Morales case that set off his
hackles. A young woman is
brutally murdered, and it turns out, raped as well.
She was a newlywed; her young life ended tragically and sadly.
The last thing she knew was terror and helplessness.
The crime scene affects our otherwise-cynical lawman.
So does the seemingly pure love that the young husband seems to have
for his beautiful bride.
The local DA quickly finds two poor, hapless immigrants and charges
them with the crime; our lawman sees through the officious official
subterfuge, and is incensed that these two poor unfortunates were set up
like this, just for the sake of a quick conviction. A confession literally
beaten out of them. He hopes
that justice is more truthful than that.
He looks at the roughed-up and beaten-down prisoners, and the secret
is in their eyes. They really
didn’t do it.
So our intrepid detective then runs through the family photograph
albums with the poor grieving husband, and finds there a certain young man
who is often seen in the photos leering at the victim; someone they’ve
known all their lives, a neighbor, a casual acquaintance, but obviously, he
literally cannot turn his attention away from the lovely bride.
The secret is in his eyes.
Meanwhile, our erstwhile detective begins to admit to himself that
he’s developed a secret affection for his boss.
She’s from another social class, he thought.
She was educated at Harvard (she says Cornell, but he says, what’s
the difference? They’re in
.) She’s engaged, she seems
out of his reach, and yet he thinks he detects some glimmer there; something
maybe she herself is unwilling to admit to herself.
But the secret is in her eyes.
At last, our quiet hero finds his man, who’s been forewarned,
somehow, and runs far away. Doesn’t
there need to be some justice here, even if it is blind?
Doesn’t there need to be some resolution here, even if it is
faulty? And how about all those
years of unfulfilled longing? Is
that ever going to see the light of day, or just remain as a secret in their
This film is quietly satisfying, despite its disturbing context.
The characters possess a certain quiet nobility to their bearing, and
a certain savior faire to their conversation.
Nothing seems mundane or ordinary here; but there is plenty that is
unexpressed, unrequited, and underutilized.
Argentinean it may be, but “The Secret In Their Eyes” contains
some of that rare universality, that would make it appealing to almost all.
That’s why it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace