In this image released by Sony Pictures Classics, Soledad Villamil,...

In this image released by Sony Pictures Classics, Soledad Villamil, left, and Ricardo Darin are shown in a scene from "The Secret in Their Eyes" (El Secreto de Sus Ojos). Credit: AP

A kind of comfortable gravity attends "The Secret in Their Eyes," which for all its concern with memory and redemption is also the oft-seen poor-boy / rich-girl story that worked in, say, "Titanic," and works here (and worked on those ever-sentimental Academy Awards voters, who gave the Argentinian film this year's Best Foreign Film Oscar).

It was class, after all, that kept the lowly state criminal investigator Benjamin Esposito (the wonderful Ricardo Darin) from professing his love for his Cornell-educated superior, Irene (Soledad Villamil), back in 1974, when they were investigating the rape-murder of a Buenos Aires housewife.

And it's the same sense of intimidation that keeps Benjamin at arm's length years later, when he decides to write a novel about the case and somehow come to terms with the injustices that were committed so long ago.

Director Juan Jose Campanella, a "Law & Order" veteran, knows how to negotiate the on-screen criminal justice system, although he pushes things a bit far in his adaptation of Eduardo Sacheri's novel. But he also allows oppression, corruption, prosecutorial misconduct and death squads to ornament what is ostensibly a romance.

And the echoes of a Peronist Argentina ring loudly in the rather gracefully choreographed flashbacks that make up half the movie, and through which the history of a nation is mirrored in one man's disordered life.

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