The American Society of Cinematographers

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Return to Table of Contents October 2010 Return to Table of Contents
The Social Network
Presidents Desk
DVD Playback
Ghost Writer
Red Riding
Secret in Their
Post Focus
ASC Close-Up
The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)
Blu-Ray Edition
2.35:1 (High Definition 1080p)
DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio
Sony Pictures Classics, $38.96



Working for a federal justice office in Buenos Aires in 1974, affable, dedicated Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin) falls for two very different young women. The first is his new supervisor, the brilliant lawyer Irene Menendez Hastings (Soledad Villamil) whose witty charm and sharp intellect win the lonely man over.  Irene also seems to enjoy a comfortable rapport with Benjamin but neither of them proves brave enough to take their flirtations further. The second woman is the winsome school teacher Liliana Coloto Morales (Carla Quevedo). Recently married and transplanted to the city, she is found brutally raped and murdered in her new home.  Benjamin is one of the first on the blood soaked scene and is overwhelmed by the grief he feels for the tragic death of this women whom he has never met.

After interrogating Liliana’s devastated husband Ricardo Morales (Pablo Rago), he befriends the man and spends time getting to know more about Liliana. As the case runs cold, Benjamin becomes obsessed with finding her killer. While looking through numerous photographs of Liliana’s childhood, Benjamin discovers an unusual coincidence.  Several of her teenage photos include an aloof young man. When Benjamin does some digging he finds it’s a former boyfriend of hers.  The photos bother Benjamin and when he confides his suspicion about the former boyfriend to Irene, she’s confused by his reasoning.  “It’s in the eyes” he confesses.  Benjamin insists, there’s something in the way the young man looks at Liliana in all the photos that makes him guilty.

It’s 1999 and well into retirement, Benjamin returns to the office he once shared with Irene.  Delighted to see him after so many years, Irene, now one of the departments highest officials, asks what has brought him back.  It’s clear, although now a married mother, Irene is nervous and can barely contain her pleasure at seeing Benjamin again.  He admits that he’s begun to write a novel and would like her to read it for accuracy. Touched, she agrees but is worried when he admits he’s chosen to write about the Morales case.   

Single and living quietly in the same home he did 25 years earlier, Benjamin is haunted by the events surrounding the murder in 1974 and spends his nights diligently writing about his feelings for Irene, Liliana’s death and the identity of her killer. Benjamin reflects on the promise he made to himself, Ricardo, and to Irene that justice would prevail.  He continues to write about the nightmare that ensued once he found Liliana’s killer and how everything then went so terribly wrong.

In director Juan Jose Campanella’s 2009 film The Secret in Their Eyes, recreating Argentina in both 1974 and 1999 proved to be the most challenging aspect of the production.  In close collaboration with cinematographer Felix Monti, ADF (The Official Story, The Journey)  the team settled upon certain distinctions for each period. Colors, as remembered by the characters, would be warmer and more vibrant in 1974.  Monti used exaggerated light and also worked closely with art director Marcelo Pont to feature warm vibrant reds and greens.  The reds would be, primarily, featured surrounding Irene.  For the 1999, present tense of the film, it was agreed that colors would be much more subdued to reflect some of the loss the characters feel.  With red and green still prominent, there’s a noticeable lessening of their vibrancy, even in Irene’s costumes which feature more muted hues of red.   Monti’s complex work on the film garnered him the 2009 Argentinean Academy Award, Spain’s Cinema Writer’s Circle Award, The Clarin Award, and The Goya Award for Best Cinematography.

Sony has just released the internationally acclaimed and multi-award winning The Secret in Their Eyes on Blu-ray. Monti’s 2.35:1 anamorphic canvas has been nicely reproduced in this high definition transfer.  Subtleties in lighting and color hues are well preserved.  Blacks are accurately rendered and there’s exceptional sharpness and depth throughout the well balanced presentation that never feels anything less than film like.  The film’s many low-light and shadowy sequences are always crisp and detailed.  It’s an excellent image transfer.   The audio is very clean, with well pronounced surround separations.   The 5.1 mix is particularly showy during the film’s tremendous stadium chase sequence.

Accompanying the film is a detailed audio commentary by Campanella who sheds light on the making of the film, it’s color scheme and the pleasure of working with the anamorphic process when composing shots. There are also two features presented in standard def, the first is a 4 minute behind the scenes segment of the creative team shooting the picture and the second is a 10 minute assortment of casting auditions for the film.  Finally, the film’s theatrical trailer is presented in high def.

The Secret in Their Eyes is an absorbing, romantic and surprisingly sinister experience, that like any complex drama gets richer upon multiple viewings.   This handsome new blu-ray is an excellent way for fans of the film and first time viewers to do that.  On home screens, delving further into the film’s many bittersweet and dark corners is now irresistible. 

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