For a good middle of summer thriller, lower yourself into a comfortable seat, ignore the inevitable advertisements, turn off your cell phone, flex your fingers for some desperate hand-holding and wait for the lights to go down. The Secret in Their Eyes, the 2010 Academy Award winner for foreign films is a nifty, urban multiple mystery story with just a minimum of gore to fix the seriousness of the case in your mind.

A frustrated writer beginning to write and then tearing up pages in a dark room is not too promising a beginning but as the camera takes over, showing the scenes he is trying to conjure, the hook is set. Slowly, with a tug here and some slack there we will be reeled in. A double exposed, out of focus, almost watery scene of a woman chasing a train in a cavernous railroad terminal tells us filmic imagination is at work. We soon learn that Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin) is a retired Argentine criminal investigator returning to a crime of some 25 years earlier and to the mysteries of his own life at the time.

Scenes of his younger years in the early 1970s, darkly bearded and emotionally involved in solving a murder, against the corruption and growing threat of return to Peronist power, contrast with the present, gray hair and beard, facially lined and slower of movement and speech.

As he tries to solve the mystery of writing a novel he is re-immersed in the mystery of the earlier years and the crime itself, a horrific murder of a young woman, for whose husband Esposito felt particularly sorry. In the corruption of the times, a rival investigator throws up two working class stiffs as the murderers. Esposito and his colleagues through investigations astute and comical find and entrap in a clever police interrogation a man we take to be the actual murderer. He is released from prison within a year, however. Bright and vicious, he is just the type needed for the oncoming dictatorship. His release and the subsequent murder of Esposito’s partner followed by an unsubtle threat to Esposito himself sends Esposito out of Buenos Aires, into hiding. It is from the years away in this internal exile he has only recently returned, to take up his life and try to write the book.

The frustration of the pages begun and pages torn up make him turn to his boss at the time, Irene Menendez Hastings (Soledad Villamil). Hastings (pronounced in the American way, not the Spanish, as she insists) was then a recent Harvard graduate — and of the high upper professional classes in Argentina. Esposito barely made it through high school. One of the sub themes, nicely brought out, is the implications of the class divide in the society at large, and between them — a tough, visible barrier, that keeps their mutual attraction from fully working, and the mystery of which is the third of the many we are given to sort through.

Irene refuses to help him when he comes to ask for help but with a first draft in hand she enters into the pursuit of the old memories, of the crime, the long unseen killer and the husband of the murdered woman. Most of all into the mystery of the two of them. The film draws to an end with a shocking and to some, improbable, scene. Justice, in a crazy Argentine way, seems to be served.

Though the last word, as a door closes is that love too has finally found its way.

Good stuff. You may want to go twice, once as a detective, once with your best squeeze. And you’ll get to test your Spanish, too!