Two Faces of January | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Two Faces of January

A chance encounter turns deadly in the period thriller set in 1962 Greece

Hossein Amini's new period drama invokes the films of Alfred Hitchcock — a psychological crime thriller, set in a sunny European tourist spot, in which seemingly perfectly nice people do perfectly ghastly things. (You may not be surprised to learn that the film has been adapted from a Patricia Highsmith novel.)

Here, in 1962 Athens, a young American tour guide, Rydal (Oscar Isaac), has a chance encounter with a well-to-do American couple, Chester (Viggo Mortensen), and his much-younger wife, Colette (Kirsten Dunst). But this felicitous meeting runs afoul of a murder, and now, stuck with one another for the sake of alibis, the three flee the city for the islands. Needless to say, all the ouzo in Crete can't smooth over this increasingly toxic and dangerous three-way.

January lacks the verve and zippy tension one expects from a master of the form such as Hitchcock — this is Amini's directorial debut — but it's still an entertaining enough diversion. The actors underplay the melodrama, and everybody wears the hell out of the period costumes. A handsome man in a crisply cut linen suit — you could almost forgive him any crime.

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