The story alternates between past and present beginning in 1974 Buenos Aires, during a dark political time. Court criminal investigator, Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin) is intent on solving the rape and murder of a beautiful young woman, but his search for the truth puts him at odds with the judge and a high-ranking member of the secret police as well as the object of his unrequited passion, Irene (Soledad Villamil), a woman beyond his reach, an upper class, well-educated secretary to the court on an established path for a brilliant career.
Benjamin is moved by the pain and suffering of Morales, the grief-stricken husband. His tenacity, along with sidekick, Pablo Sandoval (Guillermo Francella), alternating between deducing brilliant observation and drunken imbecility, find the murder suspect, Gomez, through the one thing a man cannot change about himself no matter what or for how long and that's his passion.
During questioning, Irene at first objects to, then helps gain Gomez's confession. However, Benjamin's past transgressions wrought vengeful retribution from the repressive secret police eventually allowing the confessed murderer to go free working on their behalf. With their lives in danger, Irene and Benjamin continue to walk the tightrope of a hot, budding romance. Supported by a powerful family, Irene sends Benjamin away to safety to the Andes where her extended family reigns as feudal lords. The farewell train station scene ends their story.
Until the present where Benjamin finds Irene successful as a judge but miserable in mediocrity. The romantic tension is renewed as the pair resume in their game of obsession through the unfinished novel, the unresolved ending of murderer and court case and romantic memories for each other. It is a love story, first and foremost, with the summation that "Memories are all that we have left. Pick the nice ones".
Director Juan Jose Campanella co wrote the screenplay and his deftness keeps the intertwining story focused and emotionally stirring just as the music score (notably violin) by Frederico Jusid. Cinematography is exceptional comparing and contrasting the characters and their emotions against the enormously staid court gallery within an openly corrupt political system against the expansive passion of Argentina's massive crowds in the soccer stadium.
THE SECRET IN THEIR EYE won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, winner of the Goya Awards for Best Spanish Language Foreign Film and Best New Actress. It keeps moving until the final memory becomes resolved at 129 minutes. A Sony Picture Classics release, it opens Friday, April 16 in New York and Los Angeles. In Spanish with English subtitles.