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 month of January is named after Janus, the Roman god of transitions, beginnings, gates, doors, doorways, passages and endings, and as such is usually portrayed with two faces, one looking to the future and the other to the past. 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 »
I agree with an earlier reviewer that this film derives much of its effect from being set in 1962. The period feel is beautifully communicated and the plot needs to work itself out in a world where places like Athens, Crete and Istanbul were not just exotic but isolated, where holidaying Americans would still be surprised and interested to meet other Americans, and people on the run could hope to hide away. The chemistry between the three leads, who are all well played, does lack fizz and there is a clumsy and rather hackneyed third act. But the film is never less than engaging and all the better for not resorting to surprise twists. The music tries too hard to be exciting, almost as if the director thinks the visuals need some extraneous help to keep the audience interested. I think he is wrong - there is enough going on here, including some fine acting and cinematography, to appeal to audiences who like films with substance, a trajectory, and a sound sense of place and time.
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