How important are a good story and likable stars to a motion picture? Let me recount my experience at a screening of The Secret in Their Eyes, this year’s foreign-language Best Picture winner.
About ten minutes into the movie, the theater’s sound system broke down. It was fixed, but five minutes later the soundtrack again malfunctioned, this time blaring Muzak at us over the theater speakers. The problem was eventually resolved. An audience member’s cell phone began ringing. And ringing. And ringing. Later, someone else’s cell began chiming. The third time this happened, there was a near-riot as other patrons ran out of patience, demanding the offender “shut it off!”
When you factor in the inherent demands placed on an audience by an Argentinean, subtitled movie with a complex plot, it’s a wonder we didn’t all march out in a huff, demanding refunds. Or at the very least attempt to lynch the cell-phone owners.
That didn’t happen, which I believe is a testament to Secret stars Soledad Villamil and Ricardo Darin, a first-rate supporting cast, and a multilayered plot with great romance and a better-than-average mystery. There are two puzzles in director Juan Jose Campanella’s story: Will the characters played by Villamil and Darin at long last — 25 years after first meeting — become a couple? And who brutally raped and murdered a young bride in 1974?
Villamil and Darin, as justice department colleagues drawn into the crime investigation, bring such believability and maturity to their roles that, mercifully, I forgot all about those damn ringing cell phones. Grade: B+
Director: Juan Jose Campanella Cast: Ricardo Darin, Soledad Villamil, Guillermo Francella, Javier Godino, Pablo Rago, Carla Quevedo Release: 2009
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