The Two Faces of January

THRILLER; 1hr 36min

STARRING: Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Isaac

Cream team: Mortensen and Dunst

An Athenian idyll takes a turn for the seamy in Drive screenwriter and first-time director Hossein Amini’s unguessable adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1964 novel. Mortensen, elegantly jaded, is apparently cashed-up businessman Chester MacFarland, holidaying with his kittenish and much younger wife, Colette (Dunst), in 1962. Rydal (Isaac) is a quick-witted tour guide with a knack for a sly fast buck.


To Rydal, the Macfarlands are the picture of carefree finesse. But pictures are all surface: in fact, Chester’s business dealings are dodgy and when they catch up with him, Rydal, who is yet to know the full story and who is attracted to both Colette and the prospect of easy money, agrees to help the Macfarlands vamoose.


Their getaway, to Crete, is a fraying daisy chain of disasters. Chester and Rydal are at loggerheads, Colette is wound up and the intimation of impending doom is overpowering. But while the slow burn of last-ditch desperation is what primarily drives Amini’s stylish evocation of human frailty, its grace note is a contradictory bond between two flawed men whose commonality neither saw coming.