By Mia Robinson
I was dubious about this film after learning that it had won the Academy Award in 2010 for “Best Foreign Language Film” over nominees including Haneke’s The White Ribbon (2009). However, personal bias to Haneke aside, once the film started my scepticism soon dissipated.
The film follows the life of a retired criminal court investigator, Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darín), as he begins writing a novel based on a rape and murder case of a young woman that he investigated twenty-five years prior. The case was never fully resolved, and as Esposito writes his novel he continues to find answers to questions left troubling him, regarding the case and also his own life: how does one live an empty life?
Through writing his novel, Esposito reconnects with his former boss, Irene Hastings (Soledad Villamil), who shared the grievances of the case along with him; the possibilities of a love affair are evoked and remain ever-present, with the two characters portraying a beautifully understated and intimate connection.
Argentinean Writer/Director Juan Jose Campanella does more than just move the chess pieces around the board, like so many formulaic crime/thriller stories; he also succeeds in interweaving a very human story and comedic moments to the mix. There are some ethically questionable realities faced in the film, and the main characters react to many of these realities with a refreshing, resigned acceptance for things that are beyond their control. An unexpected, disturbing twist at the end makes for a memorable film.