El secreto de sus ojos is not your typical mystery / thriller. A lot is going on with the characters involved and no matter how much of it seems filler you will find out that all of it is connected and therefore matters. Most of what occurs is moderately paced and rarely contains super tense scenes. However that does not mean that this film is without impact or surprises. Because the few tense moments that are will make your skin crawl. Other scenes will surely get to you since they appeal to you emotionally and morally. There are some pivotal characters including main one Benjamín Esposito (Ricardo Darín) who you care about. They way he investigates and how it affects him feels completely natural and logical. He is not without flaws and at times you might be wondering why he is so haunted. But all of that gets explained in time and thus really is worth it to follow him and the events he is part of. It's a little difficult to explain without spoiling but the relationships and the dynamics you are presented with are always crucial. Especially if you pay attention to what is being said. Are some subplots irrelevant? At first glance it might look that way. But in hindsight and some afterthought I think the opposite since it is tied in to the main theme of this film. Now if you are the cynical type you might think that the main plot is too straightforward. However it is not. Without making it too obvious a lot is packed in especially considering the time the events have taken place. It requires a little knowledge of the Argentina of that time although most people will be able to see similarities with other countries and regimes so it won't matter much if you don't. Point is that the time it is set in is also very crucial. And I know at times it might seem like not much is going on but stick with it and you will get rewarded.
El secreto de sus ojos shows how you can do a lot with minimal action and jump scares. All you need is the emotional connection and someone who can tell a story properly in this case director Juan José Campanella.
This brings me to my warning in the title of this post. AVOID the remake starring Julia Roberts. I haven't seen it but I did catch the trailer and I can tell exactly what will happen as they have lifted off some important scenes of the original frame by frame. It's obvious that this film completely misses the point of the original story as they changed the dynamics and crucial relationships so much it won't make sense. Also putting the events in current L.A. is preposterous. Because with that you remove the political and historical context which is incredibly important. El secreto.... might be about darkness and pure evil. It is also about love and the beauty of life. Short haired Julia Roberts can't represent that ever.