The Two Faces of January
Release Year: 2014
Director: Hossein Amini
Writers: Hossein Amini (screenplay), Patricia Highsmith (based on her 1964 novel The Two Faces of January)
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, Oscar Isaac, Daisy Bevan, David Warshofsky, Omiros Poulakis
Rating: Nominated for 1 Saturn Award: Best Independent Film.
In 1962, a con man (Viggo Mortensen) and his young wife (Kirsten Dunst) meet a young man (Oscar Isaac) and are forced to rely on his help to flee the country after they become entangled in the death of a private detective.
This thriller is based on a novel by one of the genre’s literary masters, Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Strangers on a Train), and has stellar cast, lovely settings and visuals, and the talented screenwriter Hossein Amini (Drive, 2011) who directs for the first time. However, the final result is somewhat dull. The story itself is fine, and the cast is sharp, especially Mortensen (Green Book, 2018) who always manages to impress. Isaac (Ex Machina, 2014) is well-cast as the stranger running from his ivy league family background, having both a mysterious air as well as a youthful innocence and works surprisingly well with the fair-haired Dunst. The movie stays true to its source material by keeping it set in 1962, which has its charm. It’s solid and certainly has an audiences, but never really lives up to the thriller label despite a plot with some genuine twists. More of a drama than a thriller, but allround solid.
The title refers to the Roman god Janus (after whom January is named) who is usually depicted with two heads looking in opposite directions. He is the god of passages, doorways, gates, transitions, beginnings, passages, and endings.
Picture Copyright: UIP