As a screenwriter, you have a lot of work behind you. There are many details that need to be fixed before the screenwriting is completed. As a director to low budget films, i have both directed, written the script, and worked on home projects as a screen writer ( in a much smaller scale ). Screen writer Hossein Amini, have worked on films such as Driver, Snow White And The Huntsman and 47 Ronin ( talk about a mix of genres ). As i found out that he was going to direct his first feature film, an old fashioned thriller, i was curious to see if his work as a director fits his personality. The Two Faces Of January is a new thriller, that did not get a release date worldwide. Why ? I suppose there is a reason, but i found it while the uk release was set for September 15. The cast have some interesting names, Viggo Mortensen, Kristen Dunst and Oscar Isaac ( who could be seen in The Cohen Brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis ). To be honest i have never been a big fan of Kristen Dunst. Not that she is a terrible actor, i just don´t connect with her screen presence. Viggo Mortensen is an actor with very different choices between characters , who can forget him in Eastern Promises ? With a combination of very different actors, and a first time director working behind the camera, is this thriller a big surprise, or not a very good first time experience ?`
In 1962, we find ourselves in Athens, Greece. Con artist Chester MacFarland ( Viggo Mortensen ) and his wife Colette MacFarland ( Kristen Dunst ) are enjoying their vacation together. They meet a young tourist guide, Rydal ( Oscar Isaac ), who scam tourists. Rydal is impressed with Chester´s wealthy Lifestyle, and find his wife Colette very attractive. Chetser invite Rydal for a dinner, and he can bring his date. After a nice evening, Chester and Colette return to their hotel room. Suddenly someone is knocking their door. A detective have located Chester, and remind him that he knows he is a con artist, and need to pay his debt. Chester refuse to do so, as the detective pull a gun out. A fight begins, and the detective is accidently killed. Chester tries to hide the body somewhere outside their hotel room, but Rydal see what Chester is doing. Rýdal came to the hotel to return a bracelet that Colette left in their taxi. Rydal want an explanation, and find out Chester is a criminal. He decide to help Chester and Colette, to arrange new passports, but it will cost a lot of money. All 3 of them leave Athens and travel to smaller villages, as the news is out that a dead man is found murdered in Athens. Rydal tries to help them to hide, even if it means they need to continue traveling. On the run, Chester is suspicious that his wife Colette is having an affair, and become jelaous. Tensions begin to grow, and police have now information who the suspects are. Somehow they need to travel away from Greece.
In these days it is not very often we get to see old fashioned thrillers set in the 60´s. And there is a reason why The Two Faces Of January is unique, this is set in the 60´s in Greece, a location you don´t get to see very often from that time perspective. If you think of classic films of Brian De Palma, a touch of Alfred Hitchcock, and perhaps some influences of Roman Polanski, you have quite a mix here for this motion picture. One of the biggest surprises for me personally, is that Kristen Dunst does a good performance. To be honest, i can´t think of many films she have been in, where she have been this good, so well done Kristin. Viggo Mortensen have a screen presence, and he fits really well as the con artist, who tries to leave the past behind. Oscar Isaac does quite well also, as the greek tourist guide. For a first feature film, director Hossein Amini have made a thriller that feels cozy, in the sense that it feels old fashioned in a good way. There is not much violence, no bloody scenes, instead he use old tricks that the classic thrillers used back in the 60´s. Anything negative ? I suppose the film can be slow in some scenes, and have a bit of emotional moments, that really did not feel necessary. The Two Faces Of January is a thriller that will most likely be enjoyed by people who loved thrillers from the 50´s and the 60´s. I would have wanted some more suspensful scenes, some intensive moments, and this might have been even better. Still, i enjoy this film for trying to go back in an era that does not get shown very often nowdays. Viggo Mortensen is without a doubt the biggest reason why you should watch The Two Faces Of January, is there anything this actor can´t do as different characters ? I already feel like putting on a suit, order some champagne and listen to greek live music, would anyone like to join me ?