Movie review: "Two Faces of January" doesn't add up

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

“The Two Faces of January” reminds us that movies are not necessarily the sum of their parts.

It has a fine cast. It is based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, author of “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “Strangers on a Train” and more. It was adapted and directed by the screenwriter of “Drive.”

But despite a well-paced setup, it wears thin and ultimately dies before its time is up.

Chester and Colette MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst) are a wealthy and attractive couple vacationing in Athens. They meet Rydal (Oscar Isaac), an unwealthy and attractive tour guide with whom they strike up a companionship.

The three are brought together by an accidental death and soon find their fates intertwined.

Writer-director Hossein Amini sets the tone of a page-turning mystery, but he never manages to land the suspense. The cat-and-mouse game that plays out between the characters seems to lead nowhere in particular.

It’s a talented cast, but they all smolder and never ignite. Mortensen comes closest. Dunst is a bit too lost in the period. Isaac does little to step out of his “Inside Llewyn Davis” shadow.

It’s passable for the Sunday matinee crowd (i.e. your parents), but it should have been more.

"The Two Faces of January"

Opens Friday

2 stars