Volume 22, Number 50 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | April 23 - 29, 2010
Koch on Film
“The Secret in Their Eyes” (+)
This Argentinean film could have been much better. As I stood at the door waiting for the next performance to begin, I asked those leaving the theater what they thought of the movie. The responses were “brilliant,” “outstanding,” and “wonderful.” One woman said she didn’t think I would enjoy it to the fullest, because I wouldn’t understand the colloquialisms. She was right. The audience clearly consisted of a Spanish-speaking contingent that laughed out loud on a number of occasions when the English subtitles conveyed nothing humorous.
The film, located in or near Buenos Aires, contains a number of flashbacks not clearly identified as such so there is some confusion. It takes place in the early era of the Peron fascist dictatorship. While Eva and Juan Peron are not depicted in the film, the presence of a dictatorship is displayed by the actions of police bureaucracy in a rape and murder case.
Shortly into the movie, a very graphic rape occurs. The woman pleads for her assailant to stop, but he continues and ultimately kills her. The murderer is not identified and the case is closed until a detective, Benjamin (Ricardo Darin), decides to write a book on the unsolved murder over the objections of the police department. Benjamin’s former superior, Irene (Soledad Villamil), a rich, cultured and beautiful woman who is in love with him, decides to help — so too does his very funny, alcoholic buddy, Sandoval (Guillermo Francella).
How they identify the murderer, pursue him, and get him to confess to the crime is fascinating. The corruption of the police department by the fascist government of the Perons causes Benjamin to leave the city and go into hiding for 25 years before returning to Irene and her bewitching smile. When the couple reunites, they appear not to have aged during their years apart. More of Eva and Juan Peron and the impact of fascism on the society would have added to the movie. Nevertheless, it is a good ride; but not a great one.
Unrated; 137 minutes. At the Angelika Film Center (18 W. Houston St., at Mercer). For screening times, call 212-995-2000.
“Everyone Else” (+)
This is a wonderfully sensual film about Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr) and her boyfriend Chris (Lars Eidinger) — who are vacationing at his parents’ luxurious villa on the Island of Sardinia. Chris’s sister is also at the home. Gitti is playful with the sister’s daughter, who is about five years old. At one point she says to the young girl, “If you hate me, shoot me.” When the child pretends to do so, Gitti falls into the adjacent swimming pool and plays dead to frighten the little girl.
Chris’s sister and her family depart the villa. Gitti and Chris are very physical with one another and also constantly probe one another with questions. He asks her if she finds him masculine enough. While all appears sunny and wholesome for the most part, the ending in a brusque, unexpected and unbelievable way changes everything.
I won’t divulge the details other than to say it didn’t work for me or add to the film. In fact, it detracted from it. Nevertheless, the prior sensuality exhibited in a wonderfully wholesome way made the movie more than worth seeing. In this season of terrible films, one that is 90 percent satisfactory isn’t bad.
I saw this film at the IFC Center, which has very comfortable lounge seats.
Henry Stern said: “The movie was eye-catching, both the half-naked young couple romping about and scenic Sardinia which, I learned, has rugged heights for rock climbing. Moody boy patronizes smitten girl, but both enjoy the sex. The plot is an implausible sequence of relatively unrelated events, making the movie almost picaresque as it wanders from scene to unrelated scene. The ending was so abrupt that it looked like the director had simply run out of film. It was an adult version of “The Blue Lagoon” — Brook Shields’ breakout movie in 1980 also set on a lovely island.”
Unrated; 120 minutes; in German with English subtitles. At the IFC Center (323 Sixth Ave., at West Third St.) Call 212-924-7771. For the Box Office, call 212- 924-5246 or visit www.ifccenter.com.