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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


The Secret in Their Eyes aka El secreto de sus ojos [Blu-ray]


(Juan José Campanella, 2009)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Canal+ España

Video: Sony Pictures Classics



Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:09:15.748

Disc Size: 37,892,657,922 bytes

Feature Size: 32,946,407,424 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.94 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 21st, 2010



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio French 2782 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2782 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 3930 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3930 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround



English (SDH), English, French, none



• Commentary with Juan José Campanella (Spanish with English subtitles)

Behind the Scenes of The Secret in Their Eyes (4:12)

Casting The Secret in Their Eyes (10:38)

Theatrical trailer (1:22 in HD!)





Description: The Secret in Their Eyes, the gripping mystery romance that won this year’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and was Argentina’s most popular domestic film in three decades, arrives on Blu-ray and DVD September 21 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The critically lauded cast is headed by Ricardo Darin as a man obsessed with a murder case that’s gone unsolved for 30 years. He’s joined by co-stars Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago, Javier Godino and Guillermo Francella. Juan José Campanella (Son of the Bride) directed the Sony Pictures Classic release.

The Secret in Their Eyes garnered 13 awards from the Argentinean Motion Picture Academy, including Best Film, as well as nine prestigious Argentinean Clarin Awards, including Best Film and Best Director. A consistent winner and crowd pleaser at international festivals, the film was especially honored in Spain, where it received multiple Goya Awards and nominations, including Best Foreign Language film, as well as four CEC awards from Spain’s Cinema Writers Circle, for Best Actress (Villamil), Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Francella), plus four nominations, including Best Film.

Recently retired criminal court investigator Benjamin (Ricardo Darin) decides to write a novel based on a 25-year-old unresolved rape and murder case which still haunts him. Benjamin shares his plans with Irene (Soledad Villamil), the beautiful judge and former colleague he has secretly been in love with for years. Benjamin’s initial involvement with the case is shown through flashbacks, following his efforts to identify the murderer. But as the mystery of the heinous crime continues to unfold in the present, his search for the truth will put him at the center of a judicial nightmare and will test the limits of a man seeking justice and personal fulfillment at last.



The Film:

The past continually forces its way into the present in “The Secret in Their Eyes,” an attractive, messy drama riddled with violence and edged with comedy that comes with a hint of Grand Guignol, a suggestion of politics and three resonant, deeply appealing performances. Set primarily in contemporary Argentina with intermittent flashbacks to the 1970s when the country was descending into a military dictatorship, the film is by turns a whodunit (and why), a romance and something of a ghost story. A young dead woman lies at the center of the mystery, but she’s scarcely the only thing here haunting the living.


Mr. Campanella’s eclectic résumé includes several films made in his native country (“Son of the Bride,” a comedy) and numerous directing gigs for American television shows, including the “Law & Order” franchise. Although he executes some flashy moves in “The Secret in Their Eyes,” routinely calling attention to the camera — as in an aerial shot of a stadium in which the camera appears to descend seamlessly into the roaring crowd before chasing after a single character — it’s the performances that stick with you, along with Sandoval’s booze-soaked melancholia, an occasional scripted eccentricity and the chaos of the increasingly impotent justice system. The scenes between Mr. Darín and Ms. Villamil aren’t subtle (their eyes aren’t especially secretive), but they appealingly convey the warmth of habit and heat of regret.

The intimacy between Benjamin and Irene is lightly handled, as are several comic scenes — including a funny exchange during which Benjamin and Salvador’s amateur sleuthing comes under mocking attack — which show Mr. Campanella at his most nimble. (That adroitness helped the film win this year’s Academy Award for best foreign-language picture.) Less persuasive is his use of the military dictatorship, which takes on ugly human form primarily in the characters of a violent criminal and a bureaucrat who facilitates his brutality. The scenes with these thugs are blunt and effective: the creep-out factor is high. But they also frame the dictatorship in terms of individual pathologies, with little evident politics to make anyone feel uncomfortable as the memories of murder are inevitably turned into smiles.

Excerpt from Manohla Dragis at the NY Times located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The opening flashback scene - in the train station - of The Secret in Their Eyes is infused with intensely heavy grain. From that point on the film has some other intriguing style from a hand-held camera to obtuse artistic angles - often with a golden hue. This Argentinean film looks just brilliant on Blu-ray from Sony. We can see excellent detail in close-ups, colors are vibrant but flesh-tones remain accurate and there is no digital manipulation. Contrast exhibits healthy black levels. This Blu-ray has an authentic feel with the pristine video transfer appearing flawless on the dual-layered disc. This Blu-ray probably looks like the theatrical film The Secret in Their Eyes and supports a magnificent presentation.

















Audio :

We get a solid, and extremely competent, lossless DTS-HD Master 5.1 audio transfer at 3930 kbps - in original Spanish. The film is more a psychological thriller/romance than an 'action-based' effort but there are effects for instances of chase, capture and conflict. The rendering handles the aggression with relative ease. The handheld sequences (football match) have intentionally scattered sound lending a vérité feel to the realism of the scene. There is an unobtrusive original score by Federico Jusid + Emilio Kauderer that subtly establishes appropriate auras. It plays its part well - sounding crisp - without becoming overly noticeable in my viewing. There are optional English, English (SDH) and French subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked disc.



Extras :

I enjoyed the Spanish language commentary by director Juan José Campanella. He covers a lot of 'inside information' on the production and transposition of the story to the screen. There are, well rendered, optional English subtitles for the commentary - sample:



Beyond that are two standard featurettes on production - less than 5-minutes for 'Behind the Scenes of The Secret in Their Eyes' with a few of the principles and 10-minutes on 'Casting The Secret in Their Eyes' which appear to be just some screen tests. Neither are vital or can approach the value of the commentary. Lastly, there is a 1:22 theatrical trailer in HD.



For those that like a good mystery this is an excellent film - a crime-based story that develops as unrequited as the underwritten love story buried inside. It's deliberately paced to reveal details proportionally to the methodically placed climax. The graphic violence is kept at a minimum - necessary for the storytelling but not at all exploitive. Director Campanella impresses with a style that never overtakes the narrative concerns - like much of the thriller/suspense attributes - it also remains... restrained. This is a feature lost in its, heavy-handed, Hollywood counterparts. My only niggling complaint was I felt circumstances were a bit contrived at times - but The Secret in Their Eyes is extremely worthy of its lauded, award-winning, status. I had a very enjoyable time and the Blu-ray offers a superb presentation - one we can strongly recommend. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. 

Gary Tooze

September 15th, 2010



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze








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