The Secret In Their Eyes (Secreto de sus Ojos) (2009)

Starring: Ricardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Guillermo Francella, Carla Quevedo, Pablo Rago, Javier Godino

Directed by: Juan José Campanella

Rating: 1 2 3 4 and a half

Soledad Villamil and Richard Darin in The Secret In Their Eyes

After missing this highly regarded, Oscar winning, Argentinean thriller at the Edinburgh Film Festival this year, I was delighted to find it on offer at the Filmhouse – one of only fifteen cinemas in Britain showing it, according to that most reliable of sources, Twitter.

What a crying shame. Because this is one of the finest, most sophisticated thrillers I've seen in ages.

The year is 1974. Benjamin Esposito (Richard Darín) works as a prosecutor at the Ministry of Justice in Buenos Aires. Hopelessly and silently in love with his glossy, aristocratic boss, Irene Menendez Hastings (Soledad Villamil), at constant loggerheads with the bureaucratic court system and regularly forced to bail out his hapless alcoholic colleague, Pablo Sandoval (Guillermo Francello), his life could almost resemble a sitcom – were he not investigating the brutal rape and murder of a young married woman, Liliana Colotto (Carla Quevedo).

Guillermo Francello and Richard Darin in The Secret In Their Eyes

But the hunt for her killer is merely the catalyst for a dark chain of events riddled with violence, corruption and death that will haunt Esposito for the next 25 years. And it's his decision to commit the story to paper in an attempt to exorcise the memories that shapes the narrative of the film – and also causes us to question uneasily just how much we can trust his dramatic version of events, shown in a series of flashbacks.

With its finely drawn characters, smouldering relationships, assured camerawork and superb period styling, The Secrets In Their Eyes is reminiscent of classic crime epics like The Godfather and Serpico, simmering with slow-burning violence and a desire for vengeance that runs across decades – and results in one of the most ghoulish and gripping endings I've ever seen.

Part thriller, part revenge movie, part love story (and, at times, part comedy – the script often crackles with wit) The Secrets In Their Eyes is totally absorbing, as passionate, intense and involved as an Argentine tango. Strictly perfecto.

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