Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst in The Two Faces of January (2014)

A Stroll Through January

Having headed to Europe and ended up working as a tour guide in Athens, handsome American, Rydal (Oscar Isaac), meets various people. Two of those are fellow Americans Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen) and his attractive younger wife Colette (Kirsten Dunst) who Rydal takes a liking to. When having gone out to dinner with them and ended up having to visit them at their hotel room Rydal finds himself helping Chester move the body of a man who he says he knocked unconscious in self defence. But things don't turn out as innocent as Chester would have others believe and with Rydal infatuated with Colette he finds himself drawn in to a dark and dangerous situation.

Watching "The Two Faces of January" reminded me of being back in school and sitting in history class where the teacher basically had us read the text book. Yes the facts were all there but what was on those pages never really came to life, they were jus dry facts written in the same way as those in other history books. With "The Two Faces of January" yes it has the look, the characters and events but they are just elements which are similar to those in other movies and for some reason fail to draw you in to what is going on.

Oscar Isaac in The Two Faces of January (2014)

As such "The Two Faces of January" is one of those movies which tick the boxes but not the most important one; it fails to draw the audience in to what is going on. As to what is going on we have Rydal dragged in to the life of Chester because of his feelings for the attractive Colette and ending up in a battle to survive the danger which comes with the situation as he discovers all is not what it seems with Chester. But whilst it has the European, period look you associate with adaptations of Patricia Highsmith novels it fails to excite and ends up one of those movies which mostly just work its way through what is quite a predictable story.

There is though one stand out element in "The Two Faces of January" and that is the performance of Viggo Mortensen who thanks to the writing ends up with the more interesting character whose secrets gives him layers. But Mortensen also does more and frequently kept on reminding me of Jeremy Irons both in look and acting style.

What this all boils down to is that "The Two Faces of January" ticks a lot of boxes with the major one is that it delivers the look. But the story, the danger, the mystery never really materialises and as such it ends up a movie which walks through a story but never really brings it to life.