• Two Faces of January, The



    Released By: Magnolia Home Entertainment
    Released On: January 13, 2015
    Director: Hossein Amini
    Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, Oscar Isaac
    Year: 2014

    The Film:

    With a nice nod to the classic suspense film, The Two Faces of January gets the stranger-in-a-strange-land ball rolling in Athens, Greece, where a suave tour guide named Rydal (Oscar Isaac) is educating a lovely group of ladies on the finer aspects of the Parthenon. Taking a break from guiding with one of the group, he rests his gaze on the lovely Colette (Kirsten Dunst), who is also stopping for some refreshments with her husband, Chester (Viggo Mortensen). Wanting to know more, Rydal introduces himself to the American couple as an American himself, and accompanies them to the market with the hopes of securing a double-date.

    After helping Chester negotiate a couple of seemingly sweet deals in which he manages to secure a cut for himself, Oscar finds himself out for dinner with the two travellers, obviously unable to take his eyes off of Colette. Finding at the end of the night that Colette has left her bracelet in the cab proves a perfect opportunity to show what a gentleman he is and to interact with her again, and Oscar heads to their hotel...arriving at a most inopportune moment. Having been tracked down by a PI working for some of his shady clients that he may have swindled out of a large amount of money, Chester finds that his only way out is to deliver a savage blow to the PI's head and then to drag him back to his room; which he is in the process of doing when Oscar shows up with the bracelet.

    Not one to let such an obstacle get in the way of showing his worth to Colette, Oscar helps Chester carry the unconscious man back to his room, and then assists the couple with the process of getting the hell out of dodge before he comes to and reports back to his client. The real bad stuff has yet to happen, though, when the PI ends up dead and Oscar ends up as an accomplice to murder; on the run with a two people who definitely aren't what they seem. As the trust between the three falters, it becomes very difficult to see who's screwing who, and who will walk away from the relationship unharmed.

    Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith (she who also penned Strangers on a Train and This Sweet Sickness), it's not a wonder that Two Faces of January contains a lot of suspenseful sequences; and Director Hossein Amini and a pretty stellar production crew have done a great job of creating a film that harkens back to Hitchcockian films like The Man Who Knew Too Much. Utilizing a number of locations that seem untouched by progress, the film's setting of 1962 is completely believable as the story moves from Athens to Crete to Istanbul. The locations also seem to serve as steps in the story; as the characters move to a new location, the tension and suspense build against an entirely new backdrop that puts them further out of their element. The different locations also help the pacing of the film, changing things up enough that any slower moments seem to glide by.

    Of course, a good story and a perfect locations don't mean anything without a good cast, and that's definitely not a problem here. Kirsten Dunst's performance suggests a very mature, powerful actress has taken the role, not something that I would normally associate with her. Viggo Mortensen seems to step back a bit in an effort to give equal time to his co-stars, and it's strange to see him so effective in such an unlikeable role. Oscar Isaac is also fun to watch, effortlessly switching between charming and con artist. Cast, locations, crew and score come together in a rarely perfect way, creating an enjoyable viewing experience.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Two Faces of January comes to blu-ray from Magnolia with a 2.39:1 transfer that looks great. Detail is crisp, the picture is warm when it needs to be, and darker scenes are dialled in perfectly to fit the mood of the film. No artifacting is apparent. The movie has some fantastic locations, and this transfer does them justice.

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also more than adequate. There's not too much emphasis here on things happening in the rear of the sound field, but the mix puts the viewer squarely in the picture as it should. Dialogue is clear and balanced well, with no issues.

    First up in the extras are 4 Deleted Scenes (6:03) that are interesting to watch, but left on the cutting room floor for a reason, while a Blooper Reel (3:48) contains a few instances of actors messing up their lines.

    Travelling In Style (2:33) is a very short look at the costumes in the film.

    Shooting the Odyssey (2:51) discusses shooting on location in Athens and features interviews with the Production Designer and the cast.

    A Twist on the Classic Thriller (3:09) is basically the cast and crew discussing the plot and characters of the film, and AXS TV: A Look at The Two Faces of January (2:32) is the usual AXS TV promo piece that features a bunch of stuff seen in the other featurettes.

    Finally, a Trailer and a Magnolia Promo Reel round out the supplements.

    The Final Word:

    It's definitely not going to be for everyone, but The Two Faces of January should appeal to fans of suspense films, noirs, and good movies in general.




    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!