The Two Faces of January

Rated PG-13

We get a nice reminder of what a great actor Viggo Mortesnsen is in “The Two Faces of January,” a fine piece of suspenseful filmmaking from writer-director Hossein Amini, the man who penned “Drive.” While vacationing in Athens, Greece in the early sixties, Chester the investment broker and his wife Collette (Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst) come across Rydal (Oscar Isaac), an American tour guide who tricks young college girls out of their cash. The affluent couple seems innocent enough, until a private detective shows up at their hotel looking for payback on some of Chester’s bad investments. It turns out Chester, who presents himself as a wealthy stock market mogul, has a checkered and troubled past. Circumstances call for the couple to flee Athens, soliciting the help of Rydal and his connections. Rydal assists with the escape plan, assured that he will make a lot of money. His intentions shift when more is revealed about Chester’s past and personality. Collette slowly but surely becomes Rydal’s romantic target. This is one of those stories where happy endings don’t seem at all possible. The three main actors do an excellent job of making you care for their characters, even as they do increasingly stupid things. Nobody in the movie is what can be defined as evil, and yet their actions lead to unforgivable crimes and a body count. Mortensen is one of the best at portraying meek men with latent molten underbellies. His Chester isn’t too far removed from Tom Stall, his career best character in “The History of Violence.”

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