First time director Hossein Amini concocts a stylish and smart thriller based on the Patricia Highsmith novel. The film revolves around a pair of con artists, one small time (Oscar Isaac), one on a grander scale (Viggo Mortensen) whose paths become embroiled in Athens. Subtly, their identities begin to overlap and fuse as the murkiness of their situation is juxtaposed against the beautiful backdrops of
Athens and Crete. Oscar Isaac comes up with a performance of particular curiosity, a little reflective of the unattached intrigue displayed by Joaquin Phoenix in The Master and certainly showing glimpses that the Dark Side may be a possibility for his future endeavours. It’s big on style and looks gorgeous, reflective of Hitchcock and classic Hollywood. It’s a very handsome film and at times rather disconcerting, certainly not a million miles away from that other most famous Highsmith adaptation, The Talented Mr Ripley. Tense and melodramatic, The Two Faces of January takes risks and mimics a style which pays off very satisfyingly.
The Two Faces of January is out now in the UK and out on 3rd October in the US. Running time 96 mins. Certificate 12A (UK).
Review by David Rank