The Two Faces of January

The Two Faces of January

Directed by Hossein Amini
Starring Vigo Mortenson, Kirsten Dunst & Oscar Isaaac

Certificate PG-13

Five minutes into the film the first phrase that springs to mind is “they don’t make ‘em like this anymore!” – and with good reason too –they don’t have to.

In truth there is nothing really wrong with it. If you fancy an hour and a half of mildly entertaining hokum or you have the hots for the “not so good” Hitchcock movies, this’ll do nicely.

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Based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, who also wrote Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr Ripley, it tells the tale of a wealthy American couple played by Mortensen and Dunst, who are not at all who they appear to be. Vacationing in Athens they are tracked down by a private detective. A fight ensues in their hotel room, the detective is accidentally killed and the couple employ the services of local tour guide played by Isaac to help them escape from Greece.

Obviously, it all spirals out of control and things get nasty.

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It is set in 1962, a magical bygone era when well heeled male tourists wore three piece linen suits complete with shirt and tie and crisp Panama hats and their spouses wore elegant dresses and heels to explore the ruins…really?

You can also tell it’s the 60s ‘cos everybody smokes. I mean SMOKES! They never stop, it’s like smoker porn. I was almost waiting for somebody to pull out a massive Cuban cigar in the tobacco equivalent of the “money shot”.

This film is so old fashioned you can imagine the casting director saying “it’s a damn shame we can’t get Cary Grant and Grace Kelly for the leads”.

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The direction is crisp, the photography is nice and the three leads are good in their roles but I would have felt cheated if I had gone to the cinema to see it. It feels dated and as for production values it is inferior to the type of drama that HBO or Netflix are now producing on a regular basis.

Nevertheless, if there’s “nowt” on telly and you scan your “on demand” service and fancy a mildly diverting thriller this won’t disappoint but it certainly isn’t worth buying for repeated viewings.

Rating 3 out of 5 stars.


If you liked this you would also like: The Talented Mr Ripley, Strangers on a Train, Ripley’s Game, Purple Noon.