Nikki (Annette Benning) really misses her late husband (Ed Harris). We know this because we see her dreaming about him. Thinking about him. Imagining him. The opening of the movie does not hold back from using various soporific forms of flashback to show, yes, she most certainly does miss this wonderful man. The point is made again and again over schmaltzy musical cues and already you know this is quite horrible film making. Directed and co-written by Arie Posin, subtlety is thrown out for a slap in the face, making it clear that the film has no faith in its usually very capable actress to convey such emotion without resorting to saccharine and crude narrative devices.
And it just gets worse when the very much-widowed Nikki bumps into a man who looks just like her husband (shockingly also played by Ed Harris) and they become close. It’s a little creepy, very cheesy and extremely badly done. Robin Williams even pops up as Nikki’s neighbour who somewhat fancies her. He has a weird, unplaceable accent and delivers the sort of performance which will not be a fond part of his legacy. Everything is so telegraphed and weird, but not weird in a good or interesting way, just misjudged, hopeless, weird. Why has she found this man who doesn’t just look like her late husband, but looks exactly like him? What is this all trying to say about her grief? Yes, she misses him, that point is clear after the countless, whimsical flashbacks. It’s a ridiculous, manipulative tear-jerker with some terribly cheesy writing matched perfectly by the unsubtle direction.
Review by David Rank
The Face of Love is out now in the UK. Running time 92 mins. Certificate 12A (UK).