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  • Benjamin Maio Mackay

The Two Faces of January - 4 Stars

The Two Faces of January is a 2014 suspense thriller starring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac.


This is Hossein Amini’s directorial debut (he also wrote the film) and he truly masters the adaptation of this classic novel by Patricia Highsmith. While this film has played in various film festivals around the world before opening at cinemas worldwide I think it will enjoy a very successful run at the mainstream box office.


To say too much about the plot would spoil it, but I can say Amini’s writing is superb and there are many plot twists that  help maintain the pace of the film.


The main cast consists of Viggo Mortensen (The Lord of the Rings), Kirsten Dunst (Spiderman Trilogy) and Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, Star Wars 7). Kirsten Dunst played a pivotal role in the film, although her character was weak and shallow. Despite her character limitations, I certainly think she could have brought more depth to the role and made her emotional scenes more intense. While her performance is ok she is outshone by the other leads in the film.


Now I’m not sure if the director intended for the audience to like Viggo Mortensen’s villainous character, but you certainly can’t help yourself due to his onscreen charisma! Mortensen certainly steals the show, but he also has the most interesting role. He manages to show the characters’ diverse and sporadic emotions including his internal struggle between being “good” and “evil”.


Oscar Isaac is a newcomer to the industry and until last year hadn’t secured a leading role. While he is the most inexperienced of the three leads he certainly steps up to the challenge and outshines Dunst and develops a fantastic rapport with Mortensen.


In this movie the music plays the critical role of building and maintaining the suspense. The one constant throughout the film was the outstanding score from Oscar Nominee Alberto Iglesias.


This is an exciting suspense filmed drama with a strong cast, good direction and an incredible score. An outstanding picture that I would strongly recommend.


4 Stars

Review by Benjamin Maio Mackay

Movie screening courtesy of Palace Nova Cinemas

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