NOW WATCHING: THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY

Thursday, January 21, 2016

via: HBO HD

Written and directed by screenwriter Hossein Amini in his directorial debut, The Two Faces of January is an American thriller film, based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1964 novel of the same name. The film stars Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, and Oscar Isaac.



Filming took place on location in Greece and Turkey and at a studio in London. The film premiered in February 2014 in the Berlinale Special Galas section of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.



Hossein Amini wrote the screenplay, which also marks his directorial debut; Amini said he had wanted to direct a film adaptation of the novel for the past 15 years. Amini’s screenplay is based on the 1964 novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith. He wrote: “What I love about Highsmith is the way that she puts us in the shoes of traditionally unlikable characters, often criminals, and then makes us not only understand their motivations but recognize something of ourselves in them ... It was this type of connection that drew me to Chester MacFarland, ... a jealous, alcoholic conman who is nevertheless a deeply tragic figure. His journey of murder, flight and redemption made him an unforgettable character for me and one of the main reasons I wanted to turn the novel into a film.”



Producer Tom Sternberg optioned the rights to the novel and originally set up a project with the production company Mirage. Sternberg developed the project with Amini and it found the backing by StudioCanal and Working Title.

Principal photography began August 2012 in Athens, Crete, Istanbul, and London’s Ealing Studios. Identifiable locations include the Küçük Hasan mosque on Chania harbour, a nearby café and the Grand Arsenal in Plateia Katehaki, the ruins of Knossos near Iraklion, and the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.



The Two Faces of January received generally positive reviews; it currently holds an 82% rating based on 105 reviews on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus states: “With striking visuals, complex characters, and Hitchcockian plot twists, The Two Faces of January offers a pleasantly pungent treat for fans of romantic thrillers.” On Metacritic, the film has a 66/100 rating from 30 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews.”

Peter DeBruge of Variety wrote that Amini “expertly blends touches of Hitchcock and Highsmith.” In comparing it to The Talented Mr. Ripley, Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter said that it lacks the “joie de vivre” of that film, but has lush cinematography and shows Amini’s “skill at working with actors.” Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote, “Mr. Amini adds embellishing details and plot layers, hints at a grave Oedipal disturbance, turns up the sexual heat and smoothly increases the narrative torque.” Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “As was the case in the book, there are moves that don’t always make sense, but the game-playing is riveting.”

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