Discussion/Film Response for The Secret in Their Eyes
Keep in mind that your response should NOT simply be a re-narration of the film’s plot or a summary of the assigned reading. A higher grade will be awarded to responses that demonstrate your ability to provide original interpretation of the film while also applying relevant concepts, issues, and theories covered in the course.
How does the film present the concepts of justice, vengeance, and corruption? In your opinion, is the final plot “twist” an example of justice or vengeance? To what extent is it a product of corruption?
What is the traditional structure of a police procedural (or detective movie)? To what extent does The Secret in Their Eyes follow this structure. Does the film depart from this structure in any way?
- What does the film have to say about the role that memory plays in the life of an individual and the history of a nation?
and write a simple peer review of this one:
- 1.) The film presents the concepts of justice, vengeance and corruption all as living in the same environment and influencing each other, both in a positive and negative way. Irene, Esposito, and Sandoval all have a deep belief in justice through their justice system: the investigation and the courts. Irene initially believes that everything should be done “by the books” and is hesitant to break any rules in the name of justice. Sandoval and Esposito, however, are willing to break the rules if it means finding the killer and delivering justice that way. Morales, starts the film by believing in justice, and could arguably be a believer in both vengeance and corruption based on his treatment of his wife’s killer. While the investigation is ongoing, Morales believes in the integrity of the justice system, while trying to help find his wife’s killer. However, when they do finally find him and he is convicted, he is eventually released as part of an executive order granting convicted criminals the rights to be contract killers or bodyguards for the state. This system is an example of government corruption, as in my opinion, convicted violent criminals should not be able to be released and granted the rights to potentially legally kill other people. Morales cannot live with this fact and kidnaps Gomez and forces him to be imprisoned on his own property for the rest of his life, therefore serving what was supposed to be his life sentence. Whether this is a concept of vengeance or justice is debatable. In my opinion, the fact that Morales put Gomez in his own jail for the crimes he committed is justice. He gives him food and he does not seem to be physically unwell. However, the fact that Gomez has apparently not spoken a word to him, so essentially leaving him in “solitary” may be considered his own form of vengeance as solitary confinement can be considered cruel and unusual punishment. However, for the crimes he committed against Lilliana, I feel he deserves this treatment.
2.) The regular structure of a police procedural begins with an introduction period, in which the audience is presented with all of the background information, as well as the crime. Next comes the development, in which the investigation into the crime and the attempts to find and punish the criminal is enacted. Finally, the conclusion portrays the actual deliverance of punishment to the criminal, and justice for the survivors or family of the deceased. The Secret in Their Eyes follows this procedural pretty closely. It begins with the background on Esposito, Sandoval, and Irene as a team and their own relationships with each other, as well as the introduction of the crime as well as the victim and her husband. Next, it goes through the development stage as Esposito, Sandoval and Morales, to an extent, find Gomez and get him to admit to his crimes. The only part that really strays from the procedural is the conclusion. At first, you think that Morales killed Gomez, but Esposito finds out he has actually kept him locked up and in solitary on his own property. This is because Morales felt that death was not justice, as it was an easy escape from his crimes. Instead, life in prison was proper justice, and when the court system failed him, he took matters into his own hands to get justice for his wife. The film also slightly departs from this procedural through the chronological sequence of back and forth, through flashbacks to when the crime happened, and “present” day with Esposito writing his book. The flashbacks happen mostly to the tune of the police procedural, but the conclusion happens in “present” day, which is a way of straying from the typical procedural.
- 3.) The film says a lot about the role of memory in people’s lives, as well as that of a nation. The whole point of Esposito writing his book is to get these very distinct and life-changing events of his past into writing, so he can relive them over and over again. In the beginning, Irene acts as if she has no interest in reliving her memories of that time, even saying she can only look forward and not back. However, the importance of those moments in her memory become more and more clear and unavoidable as her romantic, or wannabe romantic, relationship with Esposito is dug up through his novel and memories of those days. In a more somber tone, Morales can never move on from his wife’s death because of the memories he is stuck with of her life. He repeatedly says, “forget it, forget it” when Esposito visits him later in life, while simultaneously being unable to forget it as he is faced with his wife’s rapist and killer every day in his backyard shed. This moment seems to move Esposito to stop dwelling in his past and memories with Irene and live in the moment and appreciate her in the here and now, which is shown in his rushed visit to her to work things out in the very end. The experience of the nation through their memories of that time can be very personal. As Morales had to take his justice for his wife into his own hands after his country failed him in delivering justice. I imagine it was the same for so many other people who felt they had justice delivered, only to find out their loved ones’ killers were allowed back out into the streets. Overall, one of the themes of the film is the insistence of memories to bring us back to specific moments and human beings’ entire experiences are based on their own memories and their significance to their overall lives.
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