SYNOPSIS: The charismatic Chester MacFarland (Mortensen) and his alluring younger wife Coletter (Dunst), arrive in Athens by boat via the Corinthian 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, events take a more sinister turn and he finds himself compromised and unable to pull free...


The Two Faces of January is the kind of old school and wonderfully craft movie that Hollywood no longer makes. Based on the book by writer Patricia Highsmith, it marks the directorial feature of longtime screenwriter Hossein Amini (Snow White and the Huntsman and Drive).

The movie started innocently enough as an American couple, Chester MacFarland and his beautiful wife, Colette (Viggo Mortensen and Kristen Dunst) while on a tour in Athens gets to know an American tour guide, Rydal (Oscar Isaac). The trio subsequently became friends and before long, Rydal discovered Chester has a dark secret of his own after an argument with a private detective turned ugly in his hotel room.   

There are no bloodshed, violence of any kind or gratuitous nudity that follows the threesome running away from the authorities. Amini plays his card well keeping the material taut and tasteful without resorting to cheap cinematic tricks. The events that unfold revealed the ugliness and sins of mankind with one wrong deed leading to another. Obviously there’s no turning back for people liked Chester MacFarland. And of course, Rydal is no saint either; he has set his eyes on Colette from the day they met.

While the 1960s setting in Greece and Turkey is almost flawlessly recreated by the set designers, the performances of Mortensen and Isaac is that crucial piece of the puzzle that kept everyone glued to their seats. These two actors known for their acting chops doesn’t disappoint as they immersed themselves into these morally questionable characters. Car chase and gunplay is totally absent from this mystery thriller with the sole inclusion of a climatic foot chase along the busy dark alleys of a bazaar. Liked mentioned before, this is a classic, slow burner thriller that refused to resort itself to gimmicks.  

The movie also featured excellent picturesque camerawork from Danish cinematographer Marcel Zyskind and the classy soundtrack by Alberto Iglesias is compelling. A recommended piece of work for mature audiences. 




Visual and audio which comes with a choice of 2.0 and 5.1 is respectable. 



Review by Linus Tee



Genre: Drama/Thriller
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Isaac, Kirsten Dunst, Yigit Ozsener, Daisy Bevan, Evgenia Dimitropoulou, Nikos Mavrakis
Director: Hossein Amini
Rating: PG13 (Brief Coarse Language)
Year Made: 2014




Languages: English
Subtitles: English/Chinese
Aspect Ratio: 16x9
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0/5.1
Running Time: 1 hr 33 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Scorpio East Entertainment