The Two Faces of January – Movie Review

The film is adapted from the Patricia Highsmith novel and there similarities to The Talented Mr Ripley (TTMR).

The film starts in 1962 Athens when a wealthy middle-aged American Chester MacFarland (played by  Viggo Mortensen) and his younger wife Colette (Kirsten Dunst) meet with Rydal (Oscar Isaac). Rydal is a young American drifter working as a tour guide exploiting his customers’ lack of the Greek language to short change them. In some ways Rydal resembles Tom Ripley although he is far less of a sociopath.

Chester turns out to be a fraudster escaping from investors he has swindled.  All three end up on the run and move to Crete. The plot is less complex than TTMR and the interest is mainly in the interactions between the characters, in particular the two men. In turns each tries to manipulate and get the better of the other. Added to this Rydal becomes infatuated with Colette. Overall one of the better films I have seen this year. 3 stars.

BTW This is the first time I’ve seen a British Board of Film Classification warning of “scenes of smoking”. And yes, there is a lot of smoking.

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