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.
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.
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
In the beginning Rydal recounts the legend of Aegeus on the steps of the Acropolis and says that it was there that Aegeus jumped to his death after his son, Theseus returned from Crete and forgot to change the black sails to white to denote his success. This is untrue; you would not be able to see the Aegean from the Acropolis, anyway. According to the legend Aegeus was waiting for the ships to arrive at Cape Sounion and when he saw the black sails he plunged into the sea (which is called the Aegean Sea after him). It is unlikely that a tour guide would not know how to recount the legend properly. See more »
A compelling throwback to the suspenseful thrillers of 60 years ago, Two Faces of January is as stylish a film as you will see from any decade since talkies began. Reminiscent of Hitchcock in his 1950's pomp, but without the melodrama, writer director Hossein Amini's interpretation of Patricia Highsmith's novel is beautiful to look at. The European locations evoke an idealised period of foreign travel, yet the film has an underbelly that scrapes the surface of gritty realism in the way that Hitchcock did not. The result is an involving slow burn with flashes of action only when warranted. The heart of the film is the evolving relationship between its three stars, who quickly become tied together. No McGuffins here, only solid plotting and convincing events used effectively to advance the story. The central performances are compelling and highly accomplished. Oscar Isaac must now be on the verge of the A-list after following Llewyn Davis with his excellent turn here, and Kirsten Dunst steps out of the shadow of teen movies and blockbuster love interest with a beguiling performance in the role of Colette. But Mortensen is the emotional engine whose misfiring character, MacFarland, pushes the plot forward with stuttering steps. His performance should be considered a career best as he embraces all of MacFarland's flaws and lays them bare for the audience to great emotional effect. After such an assured and beautifully realised performance behind the camera, there can be little doubt that Hossein Amini's future is likely to be in the director's chair, and his next project should be awaited with keen anticipation.
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