The Two Faces of January: Review

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I was very intrigued about this because it seemed so similar to The Talented Mr Ripley – European setting, a couple joined by a guy who is not who he seems and a blonde wife – but you realise when you watch it that it is vastly different yet nowhere near as good.

Wealthy couple Chester (Viggo Mortensen) and Colette (Kirsten Dunst) are holidaying in Greece when they befriend an American tour guide, Rydal (Oscar Isaac). He is a small-time con artist but he gets more than he bargains for in their company as their seemingly perfect veneer covers a multitude of sins.

You assume that Rydal is going to be the bad guy in this, so it is a refreshing take and that’s what makes it different to Ripley. The male parts are very interesting and I loved their different layers and the acting was impressive. You never knew what Rydal was thinking and Chester’s sanity was simmering just below the surface. I liked that Colette had some fire to her and wasn’t just a pretty face but she didn’t have much to do towards the end.

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It was a slow build and you weren’t really sure how it was going to end up, yet you had an inkling it would not be good. I love the tension when Rydal gets in deeper and Chester begins to unravel and lose control. And while the ending was satisfying – I wanted more. It just felt like something was missing, but I can’t put my finger on what. Towards the end, I did not care how the outcome was. I just did not like any of the characters enough to hope their survive or get out of their mess scott-free.

I loved the dialogue, setting and characterisation and I enjoyed it yet I wasn’t blown away. It was just ‘good’. I think maybe because the comparisons to Talented Mr Ripley will diminish it. Ripley is just so good and this is similar enough in its components, that you can help but compare it and think Ripley did a far better job.

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