1962. A glamorous American couple, the charismatic Chester MacFarland (Mortensen) and his alluring younger wife Colette (Dunst), arrive in Athens by boat via the Corinth Canal. While sightseeing at the Acropolis they encounter Rydal (Isaac), a young, Greek-speaking American who is working as a tour guide, scamming tourists on the side. Drawn to Colette's beauty and impressed by Chester's wealth and sophistication, Rydal gladly accepts their invitation to dinner. However, all is not as it seems with the MacFarlands and Chester's affable exterior hides darker secrets. When Rydal visits the couple at their exclusive hotel, Chester presses him to help move the body of a seemingly unconscious man who he claims attacked him. In the moment, Rydal agrees but as events take a more sinister turn he finds himself compromised and unable to pull himself free. His increasing infatuation with the vulnerable and responsive Colette gives rise to Chester's jealousy and paranoia, leading to a tense and ... Written by
Principal photography began August 2012 in Athens, Crete, Istanbul, and London's Ealing Studios. Identifiable locations include the Küçük Hasan mosque on Chania harbour, a nearby café and the Grand Arsenal in Plateia Katehaki, the ruins of Knossos near Iraklion, and the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul See more »
In the beginning Rydal recounts the legend of Aegeus on the steps of the Acropolis and says that it was there that Aegeus jumped to his death after his son, Theseus returned from Crete and forgot to change the black sails to white to denote his success. This is untrue; you would not be able to see the Aegean from the Acropolis, anyway. According to the legend Aegeus was waiting for the ships to arrive at Cape Sounion and when he saw the black sails he plunged into the sea (which is called the Aegean Sea after him). It is unlikely that a tour guide would not know how to recount the legend properly. See more »
Highly watchable, and will be appreciated as a 'proper film' by older viewers
The Two Faces of January is a gripping and highly watchable film which I would highly recommend. Set in the sixties, it is undeniably "old school" a twisted tale of murder, treachery and double-dealing, based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, where you half expect Alfred Hitchcock to appear in cameo at some point.
Viggo Mortensen (Lord of the Rings) and Kirsten Dunst (Spiderman) play Chester and Colette Macfarland a rich and affluent couple touring the sites and sounds of Europe, with us first catching up with them in a glorious looking Athens.
Appearing to be relaxed and happy together, they hide a dark secret that is about to catch up with them. Oscar Isaac so fabulous in Finding Llewyn Davis earlier this year, and about to hit mega-stardom in the Star Wars reboot plays American rogue Rydal, who seems to stare intently at Chester. Is he part of the impending storm, or just an innocent caught up in events he can't control? Tensions rise, not just because of the plot pressures but also because of the obvious sexual tension growing between the charismatic Rydal and Chester's lovely and much younger wife.
The compelling story albeit somewhat predictable in places takes in some fabulously atmospheric locations in Athens, Crete and Istanbul.
This is the feature directorial debut of Iranian-born Hossein Amini, who also wrote the screenplay this being his forte have written a range of films including Drive and Snow White and the Huntsman. And what a good job he does, orchestrating location, lighting and music to great effect. Some of the editing is also very tight, cutting away from scenes at crucial points to maintain the story's mystery.
The trio of actors also bring great star power to their roles. Mortensen and Dunst are very watchable, but it is Isaac that again really shines in his role. In turns enchanting, brooding and cowed like a cornered animal, he plays the perfect James Stewart character in this Hitchcockian homage.
In the coming blitzkrieg of summer blockbusters, here is a jewel of a film that will be particularly enjoyed by older viewers who remember when story and location were put far ahead of CGI-based special effects.
(If you found this review helpful, please see my other reviews and 'Follow the Fad' at bobmann447.wordpress.com. Thanks.).
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