Algeria, 1954. Two very different men thrown together by a world in turmoil are forced to flee across the Atlas mountains. Daru, the reclusive teacher, has to escort Mohamed, a villager accused of murder.
John Halder, a German literature professor in the 1930s, is initially reluctant to accept the ideas of the Nazi Party. He is pulled in different emotional directions by his wife, mother, mistress and Jewish friend.
Young writer Sal Paradise has his life shaken by the arrival of free-spirited Dean Moriarty and his girl, Marylou. As they travel across the country, they encounter a mix of people who each impact their journey indelibly.
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
The dog seen in the opening scenes is Viggo's own dog and is called Biggles. See more »
When Chester asks the detective if he was a Marine, the detective says "Yes" and that he was happy when he left Europe after the war. Although some believe the Marines were not in Europe during World War II, there were several units deployed there for security and guard duty (the US Embassy in London being one example), and to support Operation Overlord (the invasion at Normandy). They were also used by the OSS, the Office of Strategic Services, for covert missions in Europe during the war. Thus the detective could have easily seen service in Europe during the war. 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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