Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Secrets in Their Eyes

I've been working on some notes for a reading/signing I'm doing this weekend. It's at a quaint bookstore in Orange that focuses on mystery and romantic suspense books (event info here--come on out!). So I've been pondering my own happy but complicated relationship with the mystery genre, especially as it pertains to my novel, The Qualities of Wood. And in November, I'll be attending Bouchercon, a HUGE gathering of crime fiction aficionados being held this year in my hood. And I've been thinking about the part of mystery that's so great, that delicious, narrative pull of not knowing, and how it can translate to other aspects of a story.

Then I watched a film the other night that had a crime in it, and was a mystery, and yet, it was so much more. It's the best thing I've watched in a long time. I'm not sure how this one slipped by me--it won the Oscar in 2009 for Best Foreign Language Film--but I'm glad I came around to it finally.

The Secrets in Their Eyes is an Argentine thriller about a retired counselor, Benjamín Espósito, who has decided to write a novel based on a case he had twenty-five years before. A young married woman was raped and killed, the solving of the case involved many twists and turns, and Espósito remains haunted by the outcome. As he starts to look into past events, old, personal wounds are opened, both the loss of his alcoholic, best friend and the woman he loved. Although the film is about the crime and its aftermath, and the unpleasant sides of human impulse--control, jealousy, passion, sexual dysfunction--it's also, surprisingly, a tender love story. And the viewer is left wondering which of these emotions can actually do the most harm. There are so many strains in this film, so many contemplations about love and loss, and the actors are top notch. It even has a bit to say about our need to document and tell stories. It is most definitely an accomplished mystery, with all the thrills and chills, but it will satisfy those of us who like to unravel a good theme as well. Highly recommended by me.


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"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka