Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Two Faces of January

Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst,
Oscar Isaac


It has been a while since I've seen Viggo Mortensen on the big screen and when I consulted the IMDb website, I realized he has been steady doing what he does best - act. He just does films which are not blockbusters or newsworthy. But his acting is still consistently good and I believe he is one of the most underrated actors in the celluloid world. Perhaps by choice, he might not be into all the glamour and intrigues that is part and parcel of such a fickle industry. Who knows?
Anyway in this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel, he plays Chester MacFarland, a swindler/con artist vacationing in Athens with his much younger wife, Colette portrayed by Kirsten Dunst. Set in the year 1962, the couple find themselves on the run after a private investigator out to reclaim his client's money is accidentally killed by Chester in the bathroom of their hotel room. 

Panicked, they 'escape' with the help of Rydal (Oscar Isaac) a dubious tour guide (cons innocent tourists) who also happens to be an American. He had earlier in the day met the MacFarlands while they were touring the Parthenon. Rydal promises to secure for them new passports using false identities so they can leave Greece.

Most of the film unfolds in scenic Greece as the trio hop from one island town to another while they wait for their fake documents. The intriguing plot is cleverly executed with a Hitchcock vibe. A throwback to the film noirs and thrillers back in the golden age of cinema.

The well developed characters interact flawlessly with each other. There is an underlying tension between Chester and Rydal as the former is increasingly getting paranoid over the true intentions of the tour guide. While Rydal seems to obsessing over the mesmerizing beauty of the young Colette.

Kirsten Dunst has a short yet significant role as her Colette is the hinge that binds the two male characters. Oscar Isaac is solid and steady even if his Rydal mostly gave me the creeps so he was very effective.

But this is no doubt, Viggo Mortensen's film, that's for sure. His physical appearance and his nuanced demeanor was truly a sight to see. Wavy nicely combed hair, donning a white suit with a white fedora hat and a cigarette in his mouth the entire movie, he was in true character form. Channeling a Humphrey Bogart vibe. Honestly, Viggo is the only reason I was able to endure this thriller with a surprise ending. For me, he is more than enough.

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