The Two Faces of January

I was fortunate enough to see this film at a preview screening, followed by Q&A with director Hossein Amini and actor Viggo Mortensen.

From an original novel by Patricia Highsmith, it is inevitably reminiscent of The Talented Mr Ripley in its ‘1960s wealthy Americans in the Mediterranean’ setting, and it looks beautiful, both in location and particularly the costumes.

The wavering relationship of dependency between the two male characters is the main theme of the film, with Kirsten Dunst doing her glamourous best in a role which borders on one-dimensional. But as writer/director Amini pointed out, Highsmith was interested in the complexity of the male relationships, and so the wife character was not particularly strongly drawn in the novel.

It’s difficult to say much about the film without giving away too much of the plot, as the intrigue is what drives it forward. I will say it definitely held my attention until the end, and that redemption is eventually high on the list of priorities.

And there is one thing I am grateful to this film for, and that is for showing me a different side to Oscar Isaac. After Inside Llewyn Davis, I just wanted to slap his face every time I saw him, as I associated him so closely with that really irksome and whingey character. But now at least I have seen something different.

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