The Two Faces of January

It was a mob scene at the Egyptian Theatre for this spring afternoon screening of a thriller from the UK/USA for the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival. (This review was first published in May, 2014 so some of you have seen it before.) After we were all tucked in, we leaned back to relax and enjoy a capably shot, beautifully cast, big-budget movie that took us to the rocky terrain of Crete, scenic Athens and exciting Istanbul. We are with an embezzler, a con man and a blonde. We know this is gonna be good!

Director Hossein Amini ("Drive"), with his unpredictable script adapted from a Patricia Highsmith novel ("The Talented Mr. Ripley"), went first class all the way. It is 1962; we watch a charming tour guide find clever ways to bilk his customers and leave them smiling. We see an obviously wealthy couple enjoying the sights and streets of Athens.

We saw:
  • Viggo Mortensen ("On the Road") Chester has the money and the blonde. He is a heavy drinker, a chain smoker and clearly adores her. He does NOT want to be tracked down by a second-rate skip tracer!
  • Kirsten Dunst ("Melancholia") Colette is in love with her husband and with Greece: she has never been here before and everything is exciting! Even the tour guide....
  • Oscar Isaac ("Inside Llewyn Davis") Rydal is a combination tour guide and flim-flam man; he is multilingual and is the perfect guy to help a tourist out of a tough spot. In my opinion, Isaac has never been more appealing.
I was struck by the incessant smoking and drinking. How soon we forget the way things were in 1962! Another thing that struck me was the ubiquitous Zippo and its endless supply of lighter fluid. I know... Picky....

This story takes a number of unexpected twists and turns, each one more desperate and more involving; it IS Patricia Highsmith after all! However, the denouement is muttered by a dying man and I desperately needed closed captions. As we discussed this film outside the theater afterwards, three of us had three different interpretations, so.. YOYO! (You're On Your Own!)
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This is a good sample:
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