John Halder, a German literature professor in the 1930s, is initially reluctant to accept the ideas of the Nazi Party. He is pulled in different emotional directions by his wife, mother, mistress and Jewish friend.
Algeria, 1954. Two very different men thrown together by a world in turmoil are forced to flee across the Atlas mountains. Daru, the reclusive teacher, has to escort Mohamed, a villager accused of murder.
1962. A glamorous American couple, the charismatic Chester MacFarland (Mortensen) and his alluring younger wife Colette (Dunst), arrive in Athens by boat via the Corinth Canal. While sightseeing at the Acropolis they encounter Rydal (Isaac), a young, Greek-speaking American who is working as a tour guide, scamming tourists on the side. Drawn to Colette's beauty and impressed by Chester's wealth and sophistication, Rydal gladly accepts their invitation to dinner. However, all is not as it seems with the MacFarlands and Chester's affable exterior hides darker secrets. When Rydal visits the couple at their exclusive hotel, Chester presses him to help move the body of a seemingly unconscious man who he claims attacked him. In the moment, Rydal agrees but as events take a more sinister turn he finds himself compromised and unable to pull himself free. His increasing infatuation with the vulnerable and responsive Colette gives rise to Chester's jealousy and paranoia, leading to a tense and ...Written by
The month of January is named after Janus, the Roman god of transitions, beginnings, gates, doors, doorways, passages and endings, and as such is usually portrayed with two faces, one looking to the future and the other to the past. See more »
When Rydal is talking to Chester at the beach in the evening, there is a wisp of hair in the middle of his forehead. A moment later when his face is shown again it is a full flock of hair over his right eye. See more »
Adapted by its director, Hossein Amini, from a little known novel by Patricia Highsmith "The Two Faces of January" turns out to be a highly satisfying tale of murder most foul very typical of Miss Highsmith. OK, so it's not on the same level as "The Talented Mr Ripley", "Plein Soleil" or "Strangers on a Train" but with its emphasis on plot rather than 'action' it's still a cut above a good many of today's so-called thrillers. Also typical of Highsmith is that the principal relationship in the film is between two men, (though one of them is married while the other starts to fall for the wife). The married one is Viggo Mortensen, apparently rich and touring Greece but also harboring a dark secret. The wife is pert little Kirsten Dunst and the man who falls for her is tour guide Oscar Issac. At first Issac thinks he has the upper hand, swindling Mortensen out of a few thousand dollars only to realize quite early in their relationship that he has bitten off more than he can chew. After awhile Dundst's character becomes almost redundant as the men start to play power games with each other. Whereas the male/male relationships in other Highsmith adaptations were mostly homo-erotic with at least one of the characters clearly drawn as gay. Here the relationship is meant to evoke a father and a son, (Issac's character has issues with his dead father). This slightly dilutes the dark heart of the picture. Movies like "The Talented Mr Ripley" and "Strangers on a Train" worked as well as they did because the villain was clearly homosexual and psychopathic and you never knew where his temper and jealous rages might take him. In this movie Mortensen is undoubtedly the jealous straight guy while Issac is just too nice, (he's too sweet to be a real con-man). Still, all three leading players are excellent and Amini tightens the screws very nicely as the film progresses. Filmed, for the most part, in Greece it will also prove something of a boost for the Greek Tourist Board this summer.
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