The Secret in Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos) (2009)

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Released 11-Oct-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Four Madman Trailers
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 124:02 (Case: 127)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (73:28) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Juan José Campanella
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Soledad Villamil
Ricardo Darín
Carla Quevedo
Pablo Rago
Javier Godino
Bárbara Palladino
Rudy Romano
Alejandro Abelenda
Mario Alarcón
Guillermo Francella
Sebastián Blanco
Mariano Argento
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Federico Jusid
Emilio Kauderer


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     The Secret in Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos), the Oscar-winning thriller from writer/editor/director Juan José Campanella, was a genuine surprise for best foreign film at the 2009 Academy Awards, beating Jacques Audiard's A Prophet and Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon, both of which were more highly fancied to win the top prize. The notoriety that came from winning the award made The Secret in Their Eyes a critical favourite amongst US critics, and the box-office from the film's American theatrical run was very good. Eventually The Secret in Their Eyes grossed $US32 million against a paltry $US2 million budget.

     The plot centres on two specific time periods, 1999 and 1974. In 1999 Benjamin Espósito (Ricardo Darín) returns to Buenos Aires after 25 years to write a novel. His novel is based on his two main passions, the unrequited love of his department chief from 1974, Irene Menéndez-Hastings (Soledad Villamil), and the mystery of an unsolved case from 1974, the rape and murder of a young bride, Liliana Colotto. Espósito promises her widower Ricardo Morales (Pablo Rago) justice for this crime by finding who did it and putting them away for life. In the meantime, a rival federal agent, Romano (Mariano Argento), has extracted a confession from two innocent people which makes Espósito furious; he pursues justice through the legal system, but makes an enemy out of Romano.

     Meanwhile, Espósito sees a clue in Liliana's photo albums. What is the look in the eyes from a mysterious young man about? The young man turns out to be Isidoro Gómez (Javier Godino), who is tracked down but remains free after an illegal search of Gómez's mother’s house closes the case. After Espósito bumps into Morales, he is inspired to request a re-opening of the case which leads to a clue; Espinoza's partner Pablo Sandoval (Guillermo Francella) notices Gómez's passion for the Racing Club football team and together they see him at a game and they chase him down. After interrogation Gómez confesses to his crimes. However, Romano frees Gómez as a personal attack against Espósito and Hastings. He also guns down Sandoval which forces Espósito to leave Buenos Aires and settle in north-west Argentina; his love for Hastings is now left behind as is the closure of the Colotto case.

     In 1999, after Hastings has read the novel, we see Espósito find Morales to question him about the case. He states that he murdered Gómez himself soon afterwards to prevent him stalking others, but Espósito doesn't quite buy it; he knows there's something more to this case. To reveal more would be to give the plot away; do yourself a favour and watch the film as you will be in for an unexpected twist ending.

     The main theme of The Secret in Their Eyes is passion. Director Campanella and cinematographer Félix Monti visually portrayed this theme in their use of red in many scenes in the film. Campanella deserves his accolades for this film; having worked on the American television series of Law and Order and House he has directed a well-acted movie, deserving of its critical praise.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The average bitrate of the main presentation is 5.44 m/b per sec which is average for DVD. The aspect ratio is 2:35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

     Sharpness is fine, there is no grain or noise issues present in this transfer. As mentioned, with the central theme of 'passion' as key to the film's plot, there are many scenes with red present. Also pale yellow colours are dominant for scenes set in 1974. There are no film artefacts of note.

     Optional subtitles are available in English in yellow, bold type. The RSDL change is not noticeable at all because it occurs during a fade to black at 73:28.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     This is a mainly dialogue-driven film. The audio transfer contains mainly dialogue and snippets of the supporting film score.

     The two main audio tracks are in Spanish. The main track is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 448 kbps, the second track is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track encoded at 224 kbps. Dialogue is clear and synchronised. The original score by Federico Jusid and Emilio Kauderer augments the plot in a subtle way; the score does not dominate the action, rather it plays in the background mostly.

     Surround channel usage for the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is directed towards the front speakers, especially the centre speaker which contains a crisp, clear and dynamic dialogue track. The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is not as dynamic or sharp as the 5.1 track. The subwoofer does not figure in the 5.1 soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (1:13)

     The original widescreen trailer is presented here with burnt-in subtitles.

Madman Trailers

     Four Madman trailers are included for Animal Kingdom, I Am Love, In the Loop and Sin Nombre.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 United States DVD release is the only other regional DVD release worldwide available at the time of writing this review. It contains a few extra features such as a feature-length audio commentary with director Juan Jose Campanella (in Spanish), a 'behind-the-scenes' featurette (4:13), a 'Casting' featurette (10:39) as well as the original theatrical trailer. The extras are not extensive, yet at least the Region 1 release has the audio commentary which I believe is quite good, even if it is in Spanish with English subtitles!

Summary

     Who else but Madman Entertainment would release a best foreign film Academy Award winner onto DVD? Following on from 2008's winner, Departures, The Secret in Their Eyes is definitely worth having a look, even if you have to watch it two or three times to pick up on all those clues in the story!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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