FILM REVIEW: The Two Faces of January

The Two Faces of January (Hossein Amimi, 2014)

Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Isaac & Kirsten Dunst
Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Isaac & Kirsten Dunst

I have no idea what the title means but think The Talented Mr. Ripley and you’ll have a rough idea about what type of movie this is going to be. Based on a book by the same author (Patricia Highsmith), The Two Faces of January follows an American con artist, Rydal (Oscar Isaac) in Athens who gets caught up helping a couple on the run from the law.


He screws himself over by becoming infatuated with the young and beautiful Colette (Kirsten Dunst) but who can blame him really? It’s Kirsten Dunst. Even with her imperfect teeth she is pretty much still perfection. She still looks like a teenager and when she starts yelling at someone because her life is going to shit it brought me straight back to her wonder years in Bring It On and Drop Dead Gorgeous (“This is, this is… THIS IS NAZI GERMANY!”) Ahhh Kirsten Dunst. You have returned.

Daisy Bevan & Oscar Isaac. That dress...
Daisy Bevan & Oscar Isaac. That dress…

Unfortunately for Rydal, helping Colette means helping her husband Chester (Viggo Mortensen) and that guy just unravels further and further as time goes on. Despite his drunken/depressed state, Viggo remains hella sharp – his suits! Oh god. I could look at that all day. I haven’t seen Viggo in much before, but he hasn’t disappointed me yet. Oscar Isaac is way more bearable to watch here than in the recent Inside Llewyn Davis where he plays a loser with a beard. The wonders that razors can do.
clairestbearestreviews_thetwofacesofjanuart_filmreview_viggomortensen_kirstendunstThe costumes are DIVINE and 1960s Greece looked absolutely amazing. This was quite simply beautiful to watch. From Athens to Crete to a brief stint in Istanbul, all the locations were gorgeous. The costumes were to die for. Chester’s suits and Colette’s dresses – they may have been screwing up their lives but at least they looked hot while they did it.
clairestbearestreviews_thetwofacesofjanuart_filmreview_kirstendunstThe film has plenty of suspense and intrigue which is heightened by Alberto Iglesisas’ score. There are lots of little twists but no massive final one, which was somewhat disappointing, but then maybe it was the better for it. I was completely immersed in the film until it ended, and then I went out and completely forgot about it until a few hours later – I’m not quite sure what that means. It doesn’t stay with you, but it’s powerful in the moment. And it looks damn good.

3.5 stars

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