Films: The Two Faces of January Review (or “Well It Looks Good”)

In amongst the relentlessness of big budget disaster and superhero movies, I was pleased to find that there was something different to see at the cinema this week.

The Two Faces of January – running at 96 minutes – is talked up as the sort of thriller Alfred Hitchcock would have made.

High praise indeed.

So is it any good?

The Two Faces of January Review: What’s This One About?

Set in 1962, an American stockbroker who has swindled his clients out of their money goes on the run – along with his young wife and a young American working as a Greek tour guide – after he accidentally kills a Private Investigator who has tracked him down at a hotel in Athens.

Why it’s called The Two Faces of January is beyond me though.

The Two Faces of January Review: Who’s In It?

A much-older-than-the-last-time-I-saw-him Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac star.

The Two Faces of January Review: How Highly Is It Rated?

It gets 7.0 from a mere 550 people on imdb, 80% on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 73% from Metacritic.

Critic reviews in newspapers/online media are generally positive.

The Two Faces of January Review: My Thoughts

I like what this set out to be.

It’s unusual for a movie to be made in such a deliberately old style these days. Or maybe it’s that it’s rare for the ones like this to actually make it to the cinema on a national level.2faces

And it looked great.

A combination of excellent location filming, top-notch attention to detail in terms of costume & design and especially the use of the sort of incidental music you’d expect from a film made in that era meant that The Two Faces of January encapsulated the 1960s thriller wonderfully.

Even the way the main plot just started from the very beginning and ended without protraction made it feel like it was a movie from a by-gone time.

The acting too was perfectly acceptable.

But the thing is, a movie can’t just survive on a stylish look and passable acting; there has to be a solid plot to go with it.

This is where I would say it was a slight let down.

By no means was it bad, but it lacked any sort of twist or urgency, especially for the middle 45 minutes, which dragged on. It felt as laid back as the warm Greek surroundings.

If I was to criticise it for anything else, it would be that some of the decisions made by the characters seemed a bit contrived. Isaac’s Rydel character didn’t come across as stupid, and yet the bit where he allowed MacFarland to buy the plane tickets was exactly that. If you’re on the run and fearing a double-cross, you don’t let the guy who might turn on you buy you a ticket on trust.

It didn’t feel right for that to happen.

Should You Go To See The Two Faces of January?

Like I said above, it’s not a long film, so it has that going for it, and it’s nice to see an old-fashioned thrilled make its way onto the big screen in 2014.

But it was lacking a plot that really grabbed me, so I couldn’t go out of my way to recommend this.

I do hope to see more films like it in the future though.


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