Murder, mystery, and revenge are at the center of Argentina’s THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES, this year’s Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film. The film stars Ricardo Darín as Benjamín Esposito, a retired deputy court clerk who gets involved in a web of intrigue while writing a novel about a murder case which has haunted him for the past 30 years. Told through flashback, we see his unrequited love for his boss (Soledad Villamil), his friendship with his drunken colleague (Guillermo Francella), and his relationship with the murder victim’s widower (Pablo Rago).
Juan José Campanella directs with a light touch and the performances are first-rate. The film won the Premio Sur, the Argentinian equivalent of the Oscars, as did the three excellent performances of the principal actors, and the beautiful score by Emilio Kaudererand Federico Jusid.
Much of Kauderer’s work has been in his native Argentina, with films such as EL MISIMO AMOR, the Latin version of Disney’s HIGH SCHOOL MUSIC, and the Oscar-nominated (and later rescinded) A PLACE IN THE WORLD. Most recently, he collaborated with Stewart Copeland on the Emmy-nominated score for Showtime’sDEAD LIKE ME. Jusid has composed for over 25 features films and TV series, while maintaining a compositional career for the concert hall and a career as a renowned piano soloist.
Kauderer wrote the themes in Los Angeles while Jusid fleshed out the score in Spain. The two men collaborated back and forth through e-mail, with each of them divvying up the various cues. The score is classically tinged and relies heavily on the sound of a string choir.
At the heart of the score is the heartbreaking theme for the unexpressed love between Esposito and Irene (Villamil). The theme is often played on piano resting on a bed of sustained string chords. Most memorably, it serves as the accompaniment for the touching scene in the train station.
As befitting a story revolving around a rape-murder case, much of the music is filled with tension. In “Passion,” the wordless chorus and rhythmic motifs in the strings convey a Mozartian sense of drama. A gentle piano ostinato and swelling string chords provide the tension in “Gomez,” the suspected killer. In “The Doubt,” three-note notifs are the backbone of a yearning cue that represents Esposito’s growing uncertainty.
The score is spotted sparingly in the film and never overwhelms the story or the dialog. There are long stretches without music, making its reappearance that much more important. But because of the quiet level of the music, many viewers will be unaware of the score.
So thanks to Milan Records for stepping up to the plate and giving Kauderer and Jusid’s beautiful score a chance to be heard on its own. The more I listen to it, the more I hear. So much so that it makes me want to revisit the film again, as well as more by these two talented composers.