The Two Faces of January – film review

This post was written by Colin Free on May 21, 2014

I seem to remember that following her appearance in The Virgin Suicides in 1999, the 17 year old Kirsten Dunst was hotly tipped for great things. Stuck in what seemed like endless Spiderman films, her career didn’t seem to be fulfilling its early promise. But there are recent signs that she may be back on track. A couple of years ago, she received glowing reviews for her role in Melancholia. A film – because of my Lars Von Trier-a-phobia – I didn’t see.

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Now, looking every inch like an old school Hitchcock heroine, she provides one of three impressive performances in The Two Faces of January. Dunst is Collette, the much younger wife of financier, Chester, played by Viggo Mortensen, and they are holidaying together in Europe in 1962. In Greece, they make the acquaintance of Rydal (Oscar Isaac), an American tour guide. Rydal then helps them flee after they are involved in a killing, and whilst doing so, he finds that he is falling for Collette.

This is a very stylish looking film, reminiscent of both The Talented Mr Ripley, which was also based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, and the Peter Ustinov Poirot films. As well as the three leads, there is a small but outstanding performance from Daisy Bevan in the early part of the film. Thinking she looked familiar, I looked her up after the movie had finished to find she is part of the extraordinary Redgrave acting dynasty. I am sure she will be emulating her older relatives before long.

This nicely paced story should keep you interested, but there are a couple of significant flaws. The finale, as the police close in on Rydel and Chester is a bit of a damp squib, with the confession scene particularly unconvincing. Also, it is hard to root for any of the three main characters, a crooked businessman, a gold digger, and low level scam artist, as none of them are especially sympathetic.

However, this is a decent enough watch.

Rating 6 out of 10

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