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The Two Faces of January - Film Review

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by James Newcombe (subscribe)
Freelance writer for feature articles, web content and blogs. Specializing in non-fiction articles on a range of subjects including lifestyle, travel, architecture and product reviews.
Published May 31st 2014
Angst in Athens
Two Faces of January movie Hitchcock style suspense thriller drama Patricia Highsmith 1964 novel Hossein Amini Viggo Mortensen Kirsten Dunst Oscar Isaac Athens The Acropolis Greek tour guide


The Two Faces of January is a suspenseful 'Hitchcock style' thriller with a star studded cast. Based on the 1964 novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith, the film is Hossein Amini's directorial debut (the screenwriter behind 'Drive').

Two Faces of January movie Hitchcock style suspense thriller drama Patricia Highsmith 1964 novel Hossein Amini Viggo Mortensen Kirsten Dunst Oscar Isaac Athens The Acropolis Greek tour guide
Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst star in this classic noir thriller set in Greece and Turkey . Image courtesy IMDb website.


In 1962 a glamorous American couple Chester McFarland (Viggo Mortensen) and Colette McFarland (Kirsten Dunst) are travelling through Greece where they encounter a young, handsome, Greek speaking American tour guide called Rydal (Oscar Isaac). Drawn to Colette's beauty and impressed by Chester's wealth and sophistication, Rydal accepts a dinner invitation and agrees to show them the sights of Athens.

Two Faces of January movie Hitchcock style suspense thriller drama Patricia Highsmith 1964 novel Hossein Amini Viggo Mortensen Kirsten Dunst Oscar Isaac Athens The Acropolis Greek tour guide
The film features some great locations and strong performances from the impressive cast. Image courtesy Collider.com


But all is not what it seems with the McFarland's. After dinner, Rydal stumbles across Chester with a seemingly unconscious man who he claims attacked him in his hotel room. Rydal agrees to help, but becomes increasingly drawn into Chester's dark past, creating a precarious interdependence between all three characters.

Two Faces of January movie Hitchcock style suspense thriller drama Patricia Highsmith 1964 novel Hossein Amini Viggo Mortensen Kirsten Dunst Oscar Isaac Athens The Acropolis Greek tour guide
Rydal and Chester's characters seem poles apart at the beginning of the movie, but are they really so different? Image courtesy Collider.com


A tense, dangerous battle of wits ensues between the two men as they lurch from Greece to Turkey, culminating in a dramatic finale at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul's back alleys.

Oscar Issac in his pivotal role as Rydal is faced with an ethical dilemma in this movie. He also starred in the underrated 'Inside Llewyn Davis'. Image courtesy Collider.com
Oscar Issac in his pivotal role as Rydal is faced with an ethical dilemma in this movie. He also starred in the underrated 'Inside Llewyn Davis'. Image courtesy Collider.com


I felt like the opportunity to embellish the character played by Dunst (Colette) had been missed, and a few other themes could have been explored in more depth. More detail was needed into Colette's background in order to flesh out her character, and to give some insight into her relationship with her husband. However, this attractive, suspenseful drama kept me interested throughout, whilst providing a somewhat unexpected conclusion at the end.

Two Faces of January movie Hitchcock style suspense thriller drama Patricia Highsmith 1964 novel Hossein Amini Viggo Mortensen Kirsten Dunst Oscar Isaac Athens The Acropolis Greek tour guide
I was lucky enough to be a guest of Palace Nova cinemas to see the media preview of this movie. They are conveniently located at 250 Rundle st Adelaide, with easy access to public transport and many parking options. Image by writer.

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*James Newcombe was invited as a guest
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Why? because you like to be entertained
When: Opening on 19th June 2014
Where: In cinemas
Your Comment
Thanks for the review. Saw yesterday.The Two Faces Of January puts together three not very likeable people in the fantastic setting of Greece and Istanbul. I wanted to see some power of redemption in any of these people, but it didn't lead me there. Totally believable characters, it is just that they are all crooks at various levels.
by Jenny Esots (score: 3|1129) 1577 days ago
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