English / Entertainment / Film / Travel

The two faces of January

This movie opens with a young tour guide directing the tourists on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. The guide lets his tourists explore the site when he spots a charming pair, good looking and well-groomed husband and wife.


The story
That pair is American business man, Chester Mc Farland (Viggo Mortensen) and Colette (Kirsten Dunst). The guide turns out to be American too, Rydal (Oscar Isaac). The next day Rydal shows them around Athens. The day ends up with a chique dinner in an expensive hotel where The Mc Farlands stay.

And that is the start of this thriller. Chester is actually a con man on the run in Europe. Later that evening a detective tracks him down. Chester killed him by accident. Rydal who is enchanted by Colette, helps this two escape Greece. Rydal’s gesture is not that genuine as he scams tourists by doubling the price and take the difference in his pocket. He doubled up the prices for the fake passport Mc Farlands need to flee the country.

Their attempt to flee Greece goes from bad to worse. Everything goes wrong, very wrong. I won’t write any spoiler though.

The casting
Good looking characters in an excellent setting with some thrill underground. The casting is good. Viggo Mortensen is firstly unrecognisable, blond, suave, well-suited and mean. Kirsten Dunst plays a dutiful, loving wife who knows her husband is a con man but loves him so much. Her wish is going home, to New York USA. Oscar Isaac performs good as an attactive guide who seduces young female tourists in Athens. His infatuation with Colette becomes fatal for him.

My review
This movie is based on Patricia Highsmith’s book with the same title. Highsmith also wrote The talented Mr. Ripley which had also been filmed. I made this comparison fast enough after the first scene in Acropolis.

The cinematography captures the beauty of Greece. We see Acropolis and Parthenon in Athens, then Iraklion. It makes me daydreaming to visit Greece again. Oh, the costume is also an eye catcher. Chester and Colette wear crisp linnen suit and sophisticated summer dresses in white and beige tones. I can’t imagine how they pack their wardrobe in that two suitcases they drag along the whole movie. In short; Imagine Don Draper and his girls from Mad Men go on vacation in Greece.

Despite Mortensen and Isaac performing well, I miss something in this movie. It is quite bland. The thriller element is there but not quite strong as I expected. I mean when Chester gets jealous of Colette and Rydal, did the two really sleep together? How about Chester’s ressemblance with Rydal’s father? Many things stay unanswered or not sufficiently described to support the rest of the story to my opinion. Perhaps I kept compare this with The talented Mr. Ripley, I know this is not fair.

I have not read the book however at the end of the story in this movie, everything comes in its places. The way it happens seems too easy for me.

And this confuses me. How is it possible when the cast performs well, location is good but yet it still feels bland? That is why I give this movie a 7. That one extra score is for the well – performed casting, cinematography and the costume.

2 thoughts on “The two faces of January

  1. alamak… cerita tentang Athen lagi.. Wow pasti tempatnya indah2 ga mbak? Soalnya talented mr ripley dgn latar Italy kan indah banget mbak.
    I always want to fly to Athen 🙂 wish me luck

    • Mudah-mudahan sampe Athena ya Yulia. Di film ini adegan di Athena hanya di Parthenon, hotel Le Grand & pasar. Sisanya dipedalaman Iraklion.

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