The celebrated spiritual writer Thomas Merton once said that you can best tell who a person truly is by asking him or her this question: What do you most want (your hearts desire) and what is keeping you from what you most want?
However "The Secret in Their Eyes" disagrees with Merton. This film suggests it is ultimately not someone's desire that determine who they are and who they will become, but their passion. The question the film poses is: For what (or for who) would you be willing to live and die?
The character with the clearest and most precise answer to this question is Ricardo Morales. Because he knows and understands his passion well, he acts with great purpose and clarity regardless of the potential outcome. The film suggests (as does he) that his passion has determined his life and sealed his fate. And indeed it has.
The other characters do not have such clarity. Their lives are muddled, and their actions muddle Morales's life whenever their lives intertwine with his. But the film stays on point. The screenwriter reveals to the audience each character's true passion, and we watch as they are determined and controlled by this passion, even if and even while they are unaware of it.
Like the previous Oscar winner "The Lives of Others" (one of my favorite films), "The Secret in Their Eyes" is superb. The writing, acting (even from minor actors!), and photography are top notch. The story — billed as a murder mystery, and it is a murder mystery, yet so much more — is richly layered and fantastically engrossing. The twists and turns in the action are always organic to the story and the ending does not disappoint.
But it is this single notion: that humans are ultimately determined and controlled by that which we most love (that which we are willing to live for and risk our lives for) is so richly developed in every scene of this film that the question lingers and haunts the viewer long after the film closes.
I highly recommend this film!! :-)