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Swindler Viggo Mortensen is on the run in Greece with his wife
Author: msroz from United States
23 February 2015
"The Two Faces of January" refers to Janus, the Roman god thought to be what January is named after. His two faces look to the past and the future. He's a god of transitions and beginnings like births, conflicts and travels.
Patricia Highsmith chose an apt title for the book upon which this movie is based. Swindler Viggo Mortensen and his wife, Kirsten Dunst, are in Athens with a lot of money. They left New York after absconding with money he was supposed to have invested. This is a new beginning for them, or so they think. But the past is not done catching up with them. A private detective has tracked them to their fancy hotel. A criminal incident, albeit accidental, pushes them to travel further, to Crete and Istanbul.
In Athens, they make use of a young man as a guide, Oscar Isaac. He's an American who knows languages and Greek. He's a bit of a con man himself who skims money in exchanges of currency. Attracted to Dunst and seeing an opportunity to make some money, he becomes involved and travels with them.
Set in 1962, this is a neo-noir that some term retro-noir. Next to Mortensen, who is first-rate in the part, the actor who played the other man, Oscar Isaac, did not project his character as fully. He was just adequate. Viggo's wife, Kirsten Dunst, doesn't especially stand out either. It could be that the script and direction didn't plum their potential depths well enough. The movie has nice scenery and some good situations and turns. It's worth seeing. It will hold your attention, but do not expect either Hitchcock or a fully-satisfying story.