Hispanic realism.


This isn’t going to be a review, exactly. In fact, if you haven’t seen The Secret In Their Eyes I’d prefer it if you didn’t read this at all. My sales pitch was posted here a year ago. This is going to be more of a brief analysis, a handful of thoughts it’ll only be worth reading (if at all) once you’ve seen this touching masterpiece.

So to those of you left, which I gather won’t be many, having revisited the film I couldn’t help but quench the desire to get my feelings down in words once more. I suppose the first thing that still stands out, loud and luminous, is that outrageous tracking shot snook into the middle of the film. It’s easy to lose focus and think there’s a cut at least once, but having seen it three times now I don’t believe that there is. From a long distance shot of the stadium, across the football pitch and up into the stands, down the stairs on the way out and through the chase back onto the pitch – the camera is there all the way, and it really is one hell of an effect, made all the more special by the fact you wouldn’t expect it from such a low-budget film.

I think the best scene dialogue-wise – and by God there are many – directly precedes this. When Sandoval drunkenly elaborates how man qua man necessarily has an unalterable passion – the rapist’s, it is clear from his letters, being football – it is extraordinarily well delivered. I don’t believe it’s possible not to quietly smile by the time the purpose of the parable becomes clear, and that in itself speaks volumes about the film’s careful control of our emotions. This is a story with a brutal crime and injustice at its centre (but not, I am convinced, at its core, which is undoubtedly constituted by Esposito and Irene’s beautiful but complex relationship), yet as well as being a romantic drama and crime film it tries to be genuinely and warmly amusing, and it succeeds in doing so without once feeling plain odd – a point where so many other films fail. The moments of humour are in complete harmony with the more dominant sentiments of anger and sympathy that Campanella so effortlessly manages to invoke.

What’s so surprising is the extent to which I’m convinced I can fully feel the film’s moments and intentions at every turn. When I don’t speak a word of Spanish, this is some achievement. I’ve often noticed, and been frustrated by, the extent to which I will just never ‘get’ Asian cinema as much as I wish I could. Nobody can take Wong Kar Wai’s aesthetics away from me, but where visuals are universal, voices and the information they convey definitely and tragically are not. They are constrained by understanding of language, and sometimes I just cannot sense anger, love or whichever sentiment happens to be relevant in the delivery of Japanese or Mandarin. But here, and also I suppose quite noticeably in Iñárritu’s Spanish films, I have never had such a problem. Spanish is simply more accessible, and I wish more of my fellow English speakers that retain skepticism over reading subtitles would realise this, rather than excluding the possibility of experiencing The Secret In Their Eyes from the outset.

Ebert writes, surprisingly borrowing a cliché, that they don’t make them like this anymore. He is, surely, wrong. As far as I can recall, they have never made them like this. There was no Golden Age of cinema where film after film reached this level of realism in pure, heartwarming drama. The Americans certainly couldn’t ever make a film like this. I’m starting to develop the impression that it’s a distinctively Hispanic gift. The Secret In Their Eyes is one of the outstanding examples of it in action.

One Response to “Hispanic realism.”

  1. 1 Damn Quilty

    I remember watching the movie back in 2009 really reluctant of doing so, yes, Im from Argentina and in most of the cases I think our productions are pieces of shit(with the exception of Nueve Reinas-Nine Queens-, Hombre mirando al sudeste-Man facing southeast- and the mini series: Los simuladores-The pretenders-; and the video recorded stage shows of Les Luthiers).

    Most of the movies here have the same problems: the language is obscene to said the least, then we got a cruel type casting, you always see the same folks in the same rols. Then the plots are not there , or are too predictable or too artsy, for lack of the better word. Mainly the plots will focus, in the recent era, in two things: Dirty War and Malvinas/Falklands war; and believe me both subjects get old really fast.

    And the banal sense of humor-and dont get me wrong, I love absurd humor-thats why my two favorites groups of comedians are Les Luthiers and Monty Python-, but the problem with this argentineans comedies is that you dont see the smart side of the joke at all, while with both Monty and Luthiers you can bet your ass that they used they braincells and in some point they want you to use yours at well. Enough about the ranting.

    Now about the movie itself, for the obvius reasons are explained, I didnt want to see it back in 2009, but a friend of mine insisted so much that I finally said What the…! It couldnt be the worse than…(insert really shitty movie name here). And for my surprise I was suck in from the beggining.-That foggy trainstation, and the score-. Then the second factor, the cast, Darin, I already knew he is a great actor, and all the cast is outstanding, but two thing surprised me:Godino who made a hell of a job hiding his spanish accent and second

    : Francella; I cannot tell you how amaze I was when I saw this actor here.Why? Well, this guy has always made tv shows of sketchs of gross, banal, vulgar humour, with one or other good one Now take the fact that the actor can actually go beyond that tv persona,(having working in both the local version of The producers and Young Frankenstein, as Leo Bloom and Frederick Frankenstein). SO yes, most of the times he enters in to the bad type casting. And when I saw his performance here, I was blown away, it was like if he was another person; of course they kept the humour, but made it more subtle(yes, the Sperm bank one is as subtle as a train crashing with an elephant, but is not like he is hitting you with his number)

    the Passion little speech was the first factor that made me love it, and the fact that after the speech came the Stadium scene, and as everybody I was waiting for the cut that never came, and I love it. The score, the editing the cinematography all in sincrony.

    Then we got the era when is all this happening, the past events, all is happenig in Isabel Peron reign,-wich doesnt ring the bell to someone from outside Argentina, but as I said Dirty War is a recurrent era in our cinema, and Mrs. Peron reign was before that.

    Plus the fact that they actually mention the goverment being corrupt-with three things-SPOILERS-: The realise of Gomez from prision to work undercover and as a hitman; the fact that Gomez is some sort of a bodyguard for the President; and the fact that Romano, Darin´s work rival, sended hitmens to do him in-. All this is increidible, given the fact that this is the same national audience that said the musical Evita was a loud of shit because it didnt say that Eva wasnt a saint and put in evidence all the deeds made by Peron to get the power and how he kept it

    So yes, this movie was here one of a kind and it made me travel in time into the Los simuladores( with out doubts the best mini series I ever seen in my life) era, with good script, good cast, good plot, and a story good enought to make you believe it no matter how cheesy the effects were because the whole cast was backing it, and the same goes with director, screenwriters,producers and editing team, you know that they worked in this really hard and that they wanted to do something with good quality. And with so many just made for the cash or just downright horrible flick one movie as this one was a nice surprise.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: