The Secrets in Their Eyes is a well-constructed film with strong drama and an ending ultimately both satisfying and disturbing. The filmography consistently uses tricks that are fun but not showy: when the protagonist, Espósito, meets his love interest, Irene, the camera stays on his gaze in order to show his newfound passion even while another character is introduced in the unfocused background; later, Espósito’s drunken friend isn’t given a chance to speak a word for an entire scene as Espósito convinces him to help in exchange for booze money; and form cuts are frequent, since the film allows 2000s-era sounds such as a kettle whistle or a ringing phone to pull the protagonist from his memories of the 70s into the present day.
One technique strongly relied upon throughout the film is the use of shots close to characters’ faces. Since it’s a crime drama, the film has many scenes of suspense, and close-ups bring the audience so intimately into the emotion that the film is almost too awkward to watch. This feeling of unease is heightened by many shots that don’t even show the entire face of the character they feature. In one scene in which Espósito is taunted by a rival, neither of their faces is fully visible for a series of shots, during which Espósito is quietly insulted. The film is comfortable with objects so far into the foreground that they are just blurry blobs, even when said blobs take up nearly half the screen. Sometimes these objects simply serve to increase the tension and intimacy of a scene, but other times they are meaningful themselves: near the end of the film, Espósito spots a picture frame depicted in the extreme foreground for several shots as the man contemplates it before walking up to examine it closer.
I felt the film’s entire two-hour length; it was still engaging throughout, but I might get bored on a second viewing, as much of it is atmospheric, and I’ll know what emotional shifts are coming up if I rewatch it. The question of whether justice will be served is gripping, however, and the ending fully justifies any other issues the film has. It stuck with me for a while after the film had ended.