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An Airtight Argentinian Art Film

I like the original title: El Secreto de Sus Ojos. Translated to English, it sounds far less lyrical and more utilitarian: The Secret in Their Eyes.

We went to see this film last night at the Coolidge Corner Theatre (a shout-out to our favorite cinema in Boston). I wasn’t sure what to expect; I knew it was an Argentinian film, and it had won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (my partner chided the Academy for lumping all non-English films in one category). Truth be told, I like going into a film without too much knowledge of the critics’ pans and praise.

El Secreto is a little bit Hitchcock, a little bit lefty comedy, a little bit unrequited love story. In a strict narrative sense, it’s an airtight film.

Juan Jose Campanella, the director, shows his understanding of Craft–that’s “craft” with a capital “C”–in the movie’s details. For example, an accident with a popped blouse button is tethered to the female lead’s emotional arc. The situation in El Secreto (I’m thinking of Vivian Gornick’s definition of situation and story) is perfectly suited to the story of unrequited love. And I’m always in admiration of any writer, filmmaker, artist, who is in complete control of their craft.

Go see this film. Not the stunning art of some of my favorite filmmakers like Wong Kar-Wai (In the Mood for Love may well be one of my favorite films of the past decade) or Pedro Almodovar (especially his early films like Law of Desire), but a worthwhile film nonetheless.

As my partner put it, “It was entertaining.”

My response: “In the best, non-Hollywood sense.”

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BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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