The Two Faces of January (2014)

Movie Title: The Two Faces of January

Year Released: 2014

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 1h 36min

Genre: Thriller

Director: Hossein Amini

Writer: Hossein Amini (based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith)

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, Daisy Bevan, David Warshofsky, Omiros Poulakis

Review: The charismatic Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen) and his lovely wife Colette (Kirsten Dunst) are enjoying a European vacation and befriend a local guide Rydal (Oscar Isaac) along the way. The trio's friendship soon takes a deadly turn when secrets are revealed and envy, obsession, and murder are added to the mix.

Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley), The Two Faces of January is an old-fashioned thriller in every sense, and in every good way. This is a character study of three mysterious grifters that are not only playing those around them, but themselves as well.

Oscar Isaac, Viggo Mortensen, and Kirsten Dunst all give first-rate performances. Mortensen is especially good as a professional con-man who's losing his cool as time, and his past, are beginning to catch up with him. Kirsten Dunst has never been better! Her character is really hard to read whether she's genuine or playing her husband and the young buck against each other. And Oscar Isaac is such an amazing actor to watch. From Drive and Ex Machina to The Force Awakens and Inside Llewyn Davis, is there any role he can't pull off effortlessly? Even as this film's protagonist we aren't too sure about his motives either.

And not only is the film thrilling, tense, and filled with gripping performances, but being on location in Athens, along with the cinematography, it's simply breathtaking. Since we can't travel these days The Two Faces of January is worth a watch just for the travelogue alone.

The Two Faces of January is a well written, solidly directed thriller that makes you think of Hitchcock and fills you with hope that entertaining movies with interesting characters and compelling stories are still being made. This one is a seductive suspense tale that's definitely worth your time.

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: The dog seen in the opening scenes is Viggo's own dog, Biggles.


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