Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst in 'The Two Faces of January. Photo: Magnolia Pictures
Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst in ‘The Two Faces of January. Photo: Magnolia Pictures

By Megan Bianco

Acclaimed novelist Patricia Highsmith seems to have been blessed with great film adaptations of her work, from Strangers on a Train (1951), to The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) to the most recent film featuring of her characters, The Two Faces of January. Adapted by Iranian filmmaker Hossein Amini with a cast of Hollywood actors, the film should have all the ingredients to impress like its predecessors.

In 1962 Greece, Chester and Collette MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst), are enjoying their last day of vacation when worldly tour guide Rydal (Oscar Isaac) befriends them. When it appears Chester and Rydal don’t like each other much, despite Collette finding him interesting enough, the three decide to part ways. That is until Rydal catches Chester in the middle of an unfortunate accident that could land him in jail.

Like Ripley, Two Faces is a feast for the eyes and if anything, this movie has some of the best aesthetics of a drama/thriller this season. Alberto Iglesias’ score is an added plus that completes the impressively retro 1960s feel and look. But unlike the previous Highsmith adaptations which featured high tension and thrills, January is more of a melodrama with a barely convincing love triangle. The rivalry of Chester and Rydal is more interesting on the run than for the love never really shown to grow between Collette and Rydal. Because of this, The Two Faces of January might only be truly enjoyable to fans of Highsmith or any of the other players.

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