The Two Faces of January review by George Hooper - Cinema Paradiso
There have been many great thrillers, thrillers that can be sung about from the rooftops for their breakneck pace or their killer storytelling. Then there are thrillers that plod along like they have seemingly forgotten what the point of a thriller was. Here is a helpful hint for all those filmmakers, the feeling of a thriller is in the title. Clearly someone should teach the director of The Two Faces of January how to at least read before they put a camera in front of him.
The film follows married couple Collette (Kirsten Dunst) and Chester (Viggo Mortensen) as they travel abroad and find themselves in the company of Rydal (Oscar Isaac) and the three form an unusual bond as they find themselves on the run when they are all implicated in the murder of a private investigator and must flee for their lives as the three have to decide which of them actually carried out the heinous crime and for what purpose.
The film has a decent mystery at the heart of it but by the end when you are looking forward to a grand revelation you are so fatigued by the films events that you hardly care. Not only does the film concentrate so heavily on the psychological aspects that it forgets that at the heart of this story are actual characters and real stakes so much so that while certain scenes should be concentrating on the idea that one of these people is a murderer they find themselves psychoanalysing each other.
The whole thing doesn’t quite gel, the cast is excellent and some of the script shines with ambiguity but there are many moments where you will be scratching your head and thinking about why they did it. While you might find some interest in the overthinking, under rationalised story its hard not to think of The Fugitive and wonder how the creators got so far away from the films thriller-esque plot beginnings.