The Two Faces of January is a suspenseful, gritty, romantic thriller based on a novel of the same name written by Patricia Highsmith. The film, directed by Hossein Amini and featuring as a special presentation at the Sydney Film Festival, is a commendable adaptation that delivers the perfect balance of twists and turns, tension and tears.
Starring Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Isaac, the story centres on a swindling businessman, Chester MacFarland, and his wife, Colette, who are living the high life in Europe as they flee their troubles in America. An unsuspecting young American, Rydal, working in Athens as a tour guide with a talent for scamming tourists, befriends the couple only to unwittingly be drawn into the drama that unfolds as the trio travels across the Greek islands through to Istanbul.
The journey sees the characters being plagued by paranoia, deceit, manipulation and betrayal, these elements inextricably binding them together.
Set in 1962, the costumes, cars and sets are sumptuous. The movie was filmed on location in Greece and Turkey, providing a magnificent backdrop with film-goers being treated to the sights and sounds of Athens, the Greek islands and the vibrant Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. However, it's easy to dismiss the scenery as the viewer's gaze is constantly pulled back to the characters' themselves, the intensity in their faces telling a personal story as their secrets are revealed. The intrigue keeps the audience on the edge of their seats until the very end.
In the same vein as The Talented Mr. Ripley, this movie is suspenseful and sophisticated and is deserving of the praise and positive reviews it has received. The Two Faces of January has something for everyone and its twists and turns will have you talking about it for some time to come.