The Two Faces Of January


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Anything to declare?
"Patricia Highsmith on a low flame"

Reality is what you want it to be.

Take an older man with a young wife. He's paying, right? Does that make him a fraud?

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This is Patricia Highsmith on a low flame. There are resonances of The Talented Mr Ripley although The Two Faces Of January was written many years later.

Rydal (Oscar Isaac) is a tour guide at The Parthenon. He's a handsome, intelligent, ex-Harvard grad slumming it in Europe to get away from a disapproving, authoritarian father who has just died.

He meets Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen), who looks like his dad, with Colette, his pretty new wife. He's a financial adviser from New York. Or so he says. Well, that bit's true. But there's a whole lot that isn't.

Rydal fancies Colette. Chester is on the run. People die accidentally. The local constabulary are inept. Chester panics, drinks too much - the usual. Rydal worries about Colette and feels he's been set up, which he has.

The chase is on. You know about the chase. You have watched it so many times. Now watch it again. From the beginning. On foot. Through narrow streets.

With the exception of Chester there is no attempt at character development. You don't learn enough about Rydal and nothing at all about Colette.

Chester is different. He is the catalyst, the main man, and Mortensen puts flesh on those skinny bones. You study him with interest. The cracks are there. Too many cracks.

In the end you wonder where you are, what it's all about.

A smooth operator. A younger wife. A body in the bathroom.

Hey, ho! Here we go.


Reviewed on: 17 Apr 2014
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The Two Faces Of January packshot
Death in Greece involves a fraudulent investment banker, a tour guide and a young wife. There are no certainties and nowhere to run.
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Director: Hossein Amini

Writer: Hossein Amini, based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, Oscar Isaac, Yigit Özsener, Daisy Bevan

Year: 2014

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK, US, France


BIFF 2014
Karlovy 2014

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