‘The Two Faces of January’: Peeling the onion


Based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, “The Two Faces of January” is a movie that sheds layers like an onion, gradually revealing the dark heart at its core.

Indeed, writer-director Hossein Amini keeps the viewer guessing until nearly the end of the film as to which of these characters ultimately does have a line he won’t cross. Thanks to performances by Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Isaac, we can never quite be sure.

Isaac is Rydal, an American expatriate working as a tour guide in Athens after college in 1962. He is obviously short-changing his customers in exchanging dollars for local currency. He also has a way with vulnerable American college girls, another source of cash.

Then he stumbles across the McFarlands, Chester and Celeste (Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst), a well-off American couple with whom he engages. It is obvious quickly that Rydal and Celeste have chemistry, but Rydal is not dumb enough to try to seduce her in her husband’s presence.

This review continues on my website.

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