The Two Faces Of January Review

The Two Faces Of January (2014) Movie Retro Review by Darrin Gauthier 


Director: Hossein Amini
Writers: Hossein Amini, Patricia Highsmith (based on the novel by)
Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, Oscar Isaac

Plot:  A thriller centered on a con artist, his wife, and a stranger who flee Athens after one of them is caught up in the death of a private detective.

Running Time: 1 hour 36 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 82%    Audience 48%

Why I watched it: The cast, well Viggo really, still a big fan of his.

Thoughts: This is based on a book by Patricia Highsmith and what I didn’t know is that it’s a period piece set in 1962, I guess the book was but really the time period isn’t used that much.  I have no idea why the film is called this, it’s never mentioned, and the title means nothing to me after seeing the film, more confusing than anything else.

What I liked: The setting is lovely, Greece is beautiful and it’s film well.

Mortensen is good here and I like to see him act more but now he has that Lord of The Rings money he’s picky and does smaller films which is good but even here he doesn’t get to do that much.  He’s a presence and he’s trying to flesh out a guy who isn’t really that well written but he gives it his all.  I like the fact that he’s not playing him as a bad man, just flawed and he knows it.

What I didn’t like:  First off this isn’t a thriller at all in fact it’s not thrilling it’s slow and boring.  I thought it was going to be either a noir or a con movie, it’s neither.  There’s crime in it but really it’s a drama and more melodrama than drama.

Now Dunst is fine here, miscast but fine, I didn’t care for Oscar Isaac, he’s very bland here and tries to do most of his acting and his character arc with his eyes.

Half way through this movie I was wondering what is this about, the film just wondered and also for the crime part there’s white collar crime we didn’t see and two deaths that were accidents, and yes I won’t spoil who dies or who did it but I think you’re stretching it when one character accidentally kills TWO people.

They also throw in this sub plot about Isaac having daddy issues and I swear I’m not making this up, suddenly late in the third act they start treating the Mortensen character as a proxy dad or at least a father figure, look Viggo is 21 years older than Isaac so sure he could be his dad but this never came up earlier in the film.  They tried to make this a love triangle and then dropped it and that was for the best cause Dunst and Isaac had no chemistry.  No character gets fleshed out and at the end we didn’t know any of them, it didn’t even make a good character study cause we learned nothing of why they did what they did.

Final Thoughts: A boring and really pointless film, wasted a good location and a good performance from Viggo Mortensen.

Rating: 3/10

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