“The Two Faces of January” is not a thriller in a modern sense. There are no car chases or shots of the hero walking away from a Michael Bay-style explosion.
The film was originally released in Aug. of 2014 and stars Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac. It is based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel of the same name.
“The Two Faces of January” plays out in 1960s Greece. An American con man, Chester McFarland (Mortensen) and his wife Colette (Dunst) have fled the states to avoid the law. While touring the Acropolis, they meet another American named Rydal (Isaac) working as a swindling tour guide.
Rydal offers to show the McFarlands around the city. After spending the evening with Rydal, the McFarlands return to their hotel. Rydal realizes that Colette left a bracelet in the cab they shared and goes to the hotel to return it.
Once there, he sees McFarland dragging a man into a hotel room. Rydal then agrees to help McFarland return the drunk stranger to his room.
Later, McFarland reveals to Rydal that the man was not drunk but dead. The dead man was an investigator that McFarland’s investors hired to retrieve their money; the two of them got into a fight and McFarland killed him. Witnesses saw the men moving the body, and Rydal has no choice but to help the pair escape the country to avoid being charged with murder himself.
Director Hossein Amini’s film harkens back to the days of famed director Alfred Hitchcock when suspense didn’t come from how quickly a situation escalates. This classically-styled picture creates great drama not from being flash-fried, but from a slow and careful boil.
Amini’s film is also gorgeous to look at. The amazing golden hue of the landscape throughout the film lets you feel the warm Greek summer air. The scenes of the Acropolis at the beginning of the film are particularly stunning.
The film may test some of our short attention spans, but is overall worth the time. “The Two Faces of January” is a great edition to your list. Clear your calendar to make some one-on-one time for you and your Netflix account to watch this movie.