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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not thrilling, but gripping nonetheless
I always think that the word ‘thriller’ can be a little misleading. ‘The Two Faces of January’ is often described as a ‘thriller,’ however, if you’re expecting wall to wall car chases and edge-of-your-seat kind of thrills then you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

It’s about an American city trader and his...
Published 2 months ago by Albatross

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eternal Triangle gone pearshaped
It's Athens, 1962, and a handsome young American called Rydal (Oscar Isaac) is acting as a tourist guide to earn some money, as well as conning a few tourists into parting with theirs. His attention is caught by a couple of wealthy-looking American tourists, Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen) and his pretty wife, Colette (Kirsten Dunst). Chester becomes aware that...
Published 1 month ago by Valerie J.


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not thrilling, but gripping nonetheless, 13 Oct 2014
By 
Albatross "Never argue with idiots" (Suburbia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Two Faces of January (DVD)
I always think that the word ‘thriller’ can be a little misleading. ‘The Two Faces of January’ is often described as a ‘thriller,’ however, if you’re expecting wall to wall car chases and edge-of-your-seat kind of thrills then you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

It’s about an American city trader and his young wife who have ‘escaped’ to Europe, due to owing money to the ‘wrong’ people. Unfortunately for them, their past literally catches up with them in the form of a debt collector who they subsequently kill. Now they’re forced to enlist the help of a local young man to evade capture and flee their once safe haven.

And what follows is pretty slow, but deliberately slow. There are no government agents of police officers on their trail. Their worst (and most dangerous) enemies turn out to be each other. The two men are sort of tied together, both admitting that they’d drop the other in it if either were to get caught. It’s almost more of a ‘cat and mouse’ sort of game they play, even though they’re never more than a few feet apart.

Some people have described the film as akin to Hitchcock’s work. There are certainly comparisons to be drawn, as, not only is The Two Faces of January set in Hitchcock’s era, but it’s more of a subtle thriller, relying on tension in relationships and a slow build up of tension to provide the experience.

Viggo Mortensen is the star. Yes, Kirsten Dunst is the other ‘big name’ in the film and her (and Oscar Isaac supports the pair of them), but Mortensen arguably turns in the best performance. You can’t help but at least slightly root for him throughout most of the film.

It’s not a long film and its runtime is suitable. If it went on too long, people would probably start getting bored. If you’re into quieter, more refined, character-based thrillers, then you should give this a try. Those craving fast-paced action will be best off avoiding this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eternal Triangle gone pearshaped, 3 Nov 2014
By 
Valerie J. (West Yorks, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
It's Athens, 1962, and a handsome young American called Rydal (Oscar Isaac) is acting as a tourist guide to earn some money, as well as conning a few tourists into parting with theirs. His attention is caught by a couple of wealthy-looking American tourists, Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen) and his pretty wife, Colette (Kirsten Dunst). Chester becomes aware that Rydal is watching them and Colette light-heartedly makes it her business to meet the Greek-speaking young American and find out about him. Rydal seems harmless enough and so Chester invites him, and a friend, to dinner. What begins as a casual and amusing acquaintanceship turns into something more intimate and sinister when a man with a gun turns up at the MacFarlands' hotel room and Rydal, returning a bracelet left accidentally by Colette in a taxi cab, finds Chester dragging what appears to be an unconscious man along the corridor. Suddenly the triangular relationship of Chester, Colette, and Rydal turns into one of compromise, jealousy, distrust, and danger.

Although The Two Faces of January (perhaps a reference to the two-faced Roman God, Janus, looking to the past and the future) is a bit of a slow-burner to start with it soon picks up and develops a distinctly Hitchcockian flavour. I half expected the profile of a pot-bellied director to appear for an instant somewhere in the background. It's quite a classy movie really with great locations and settings as the characters do a bit of country hopping, but I was surprised at the casting. I always think of Viggo Mortensen as an action actor but in this he plays an aging man who is jealous of a handsome young man who, in turn, is attracted to his wife. As for Kirsten Dunst, she always seems to be cast in the role of a woman with a lacklustre personality but in this movie, that seems to work out quite well for some strange reason.

The Two Faces of January (2014) is quite dark at times and there is a chase scene reminiscent of black and white cops and robbers movies. If it all seems a bit dated, it is in keeping with the storyline as it is set in 1962, two years before Patricia Highsmith, authoress of the book upon which it is based, actually wrote it.

It's not a movie I'd be in a rush to watch twice, but I was happy to have watched it and certainly think it's worth checking out.

VJ - Movies and Books World blog
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I LOOKED UP TO MY FATHER AS IF HE WAS A GOD, 31 Aug 2014
By 
The Movie Guy "Movies from A to Z" (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
The film is based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith. Rydal (Oscar Isaac) is an American living abroad working as a tour guide fleecing American tourists. He has father issues. He meets Chester (Viggo Mortensen) MacFarland who reminds him of his father and his wife Colette (Kirsten Dunst) who he desires in an Oedipus kind of way.

Chester gets into trouble and must go on the run. Rydal comes along with and gets tangled in his life.

Janus was a two faced god who looked both forward and backward. The title refers to Rydal, who is a younger form of Chester, two people who are alike but different in age. The story takes on aspects of a Greek Tragedy. The action is slow. The film is more drama than thriller. It is about relationships, that could have been better developed. (I imagine the book did that.)

This is not a film for everyone. It is well acted, but the plot moves slow.

Parental Guide: No F-bombs, sex, or nudity.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bare-faced Greatness, 7 Jun 2014
A compelling throwback to the suspenseful thrillers of 60 years ago, Two Faces of January is as stylish a film as you will see from any decade since talkies began. Reminiscent of Hitchcock in his 1950's pomp, but without the melodrama, writer director Hossein Amini's interpretation of Patricia Highsmith's novel is beautiful to look at. The European locations evoke an idealised period of foreign travel, yet the film has an underbelly that scrapes the surface of gritty realism in the way that Hitchcock did not. The result is an involving slow burn with flashes of action only when warranted. The heart of the film is the evolving relationship between its three stars, who quickly become tied together. No McGuffins here, only solid plotting and convincing events used effectively to advance the story. The central performances are compelling and highly accomplished. Oscar Isaac must now be on the verge of the A-list after following Llewyn Davis with his excellent turn here, and Kirsten Dunst steps out of the shadow of teen movies and blockbuster love interest with a beguiling performance in the role of Colette. But Mortensen is the emotional engine whose misfiring character, MacFarland, pushes the plot forward with stuttering steps. His performance should be considered a career best as he embraces all of MacFarland's flaws and lays them bare for the audience to great emotional effect. After such an assured and beautifully realised performance behind the camera, there can be little doubt that Hossein Amini's future is likely to be in the director's chair, and his next project should be awaited with keen anticipation.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Performances, 2 Jun 2014
Saw this at the flix at the weekend so thought I'd pop a review on here for the benefit of any considering the DVD when it's released. I'd rent it if you have the option as (imo) it won't stand a second viewing, not in a negative sense, just that once you know what's happened you probably won't need to see it again.

This is a good story, & starts with a wealthy, happy, couple on holiday in Greece, that hire a travel guide to show them round a bit, before they find themselves embroiled in a very unsavoury situation. It's well acted, as you'd expect from the cast, & filmed along the lines of a Hitchcock-esque style movie that gives a good sense & feel of the 1960's when it's set. I haven't read the book so can't make a comparison unfortunately, but the film works well.

It's very tense,& gets darker, certainly for the last hour, & the ending was very satisfactory I felt.

Great cinematography, making good use of the beautiful med-setting & the characters unravel throughout the course of the movie, with some surprises in store.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Two Faces Of January, 28 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Two Faces of January (Blu-ray)
"The Two Faces Of January" is an old fashioned kind of movie. Its reminiscent of an old HItchcock style story with a relatively small scale plot following a businessman and his wife, and the stranger they meet while on holiday in Athens in the 1960's. Initial impressions are soon proved to be false and as they find themselves drawn into a series of events that spiral out of control you get to see the true nature of each of the characters.

This is a very character driven piece with Vigo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac all giving a very good believable performance. But there are few other speaking roles in the movie making the focus very narrow even for a 90 minute film. In the end just not enough happens to really make this very gripping. Despite some good acting the script has few lines that really stand out and there are no scenes that are really very memorable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is not perfect (surely for example they could have tried to film ..., 28 Nov 2014
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This review is from: Two Faces Of January [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
For anyone who loves Greece, the painstaking care over period detail is remarkable. It is not perfect (surely for example they could have tried to film in the real Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens, even if that itself has since been renovated) but otherwise it is a feast for the eye.

I have to say though that I find the drama itself rather less compelling; though the intrigue is built up well, it disappoints in the last quarter of the film. Certainly there nothing like the extraordinary tension of The Talented Mr Ripley. Were it not for the beauty of much that you see, I would only give it three stars.
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2.0 out of 5 stars I had real trouble with this film - because there ..., 8 Dec 2014
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This review is from: The Two Faces of January (DVD)
I had real trouble with this film - because there is one part of the plot (on which it all hangs) that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. After the murder of the detective, the con artist couple immediately flee from their hotel - leaving their passports and presumably most of their luggage (she has one small case and he takes a briefcase containing mainly cash). This, of course, shouts "suspicious". The remainder of the plot hangs on the fact that they don't have their passports so cannot leave the country. In order not to arouse suspicion, they should have just checked out, paid their bill, reclaimed their passports and took their luggage. It just doesn't make sense for them to do a bunk without paying or reclaiming their passports. Despite the fact that they don't take any luggage, the woman is subsequently seen in several different outfits and the man suddenly acquires not only different suits, clean shirts and - amazingly - a pair of pyjamas.

I tried bravely to watch this film, but the major plot holes outlined above made it impossible.
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2.0 out of 5 stars but have been sadly disappointed. To think the man turned down a part ..., 15 Dec 2014
This review is from: The Two Faces of January (Blu-ray)
Ever since Lord of The Rings I have been expecting to see Viggo Mortensen in something worthwhile, but have been sadly disappointed. To think the man turned down a part in "The Hobbit", but continues to waste his talents in films like this. It became clear in the first few minutes of the film that the people involved were low life criminals with no redeeming features, and so, I could not care less whether they lived or died, failed or succeeded, and so the film was entirely pointless.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth watching, 1 Dec 2014
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Has a bit of the 'feel' of "The Talented Mr Ripley"
Enjoyed the film more than I thought
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Two Faces Of January [Blu-ray]
Two Faces Of January [Blu-ray] by Hossein Amini (Blu-ray - 2014)
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