Film Review – The Two Faces of January (2014)

Two Faces - post

Title – The Two Faces of January (2014)

Director – Hossein Amini (feature debut)

Cast – Oscar Isaac, Viggo Mortensen, Kirstin Dunst

Plot – In 1960’s Greece, American con artist Rydal (Isaac) finds himself helping out fellow American couple Chester (Mortensen) and Colette (Dunst) after Chester’s dodgy business dealings catch up with him and a crime is committed. A dangerous game involving money, love and life begins.

 “You have no idea what I’m thinking”

Review by Eddie on 6/11/2014

This directional debut of screenwriter Hossein Amini (Drive, The Four Feathers) is a beautifully shot, well-acted and fast paced throwback to the glory days of Hitchcockian thrillers that from the very first frame paints an intriguing plotboiler of a story that never outstays its welcome and offers up a movie treat for those cinema lovers that have been chasing a smart, believable and stylish old school thriller.

Based on Talented Mr. Ripley author Patricia Highsmith’s book of the same name, The Two Faces of January has its foundation set in a solid and interesting base and it’s great to see Amini make the most of his potent material. Filmed with a colourful and thoughtful pallet and with a refined skill, Amini shows himself to be a confident hand behind camera. Whether traversing the beautiful Greek set locations via bus or busily running through the streets of various small townships, the film brims with life and also thrills as Amini controls the participants with an accompaniment of a fine score from Alberto Iglesias and fantastic cinematography from DOP Marcel Zyskind. Topping all these elements off is a great on form cast and a plot that keeps things consistently moving forward.

The great thing about January is the fact you’re never totally sure of who is playing who, what is waiting around the corner or just how things are going to pan out, which makes the whole experience thoroughly enjoyable. At the heart of this tale we have the increasingly good Oscar Isaac (who may just officially break the big time in the upcoming A Most Violent Year) as American expat Rydal, Viggo Mortensen’s deceptive Chester and his caring wife Colette played by Dunst. All these actors not only pull off wearing vintage clothing, but pull off their respective characters and each have moments to shine in a film that doesn’t fear the sharing of screen time. The interplay between the three leads is fantastic and it’s a particular joy to see Mortensen having such a blast, in what is another display of his fine acting talents that on occasion, are failed to be fully utilised.

The Two Faces of January wouldn’t of been out of place if it were to have been released in the 1960’s (you can practically see the film being led by a Bogart like figure) and Hitchcock himself would have had a blast with this no fuss, expertly paced and overall fun thriller. Amini has shown his talents as a writer for screen and with this film now looks set to show to the industry that he could become a great screenwriter/director and that is an exciting prospect for all lovers of finely crafted cinematic outings.

4 early morning donuts out of 5

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5 responses to “Film Review – The Two Faces of January (2014)

  1. Great review, guys. I love Patricia Highsmith thrillers, though I think they can be quite hard to translate to screen because they’re very slow-moving and cold-blooded. Good to hear this one comes close to that spirit. I liked the Matt Damon Ripley, though I was a little disappointed they turned him from a chilling sociopath into a tragic figure.

  2. Pingback: Film Review – Our Kind of Traitor (2016) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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