DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP
Three for the Seesaw?
When a movie is based on a Patricia Highsmith novel of murder and double-crossing, and when such a movie is set in Greece in 1962, with gorgeous photography and attractive actors, you expect a hit.
The Two Faces of January doubles our Janus syndrome.
This extraordinary film has had tepid reaction. Apparently the times have changed for the worst. Hossein Amini’s brilliant work might have wowed them in 1962, but today’s dullard audiences need more car chases and special effects.
Three Americans (couple Chester and Collette MacFarland) run into small-time crook Ryland, and it’s a contest to see who’s more untrustworthy. Since this is a Highsmith story, amorality and sociopathic behavior is the norm.
We love the opening when two dangerous men sound each other out like cruisers at a bar. Viggo Mortensen (the epitome of an attractive older man) tells his beautiful trophy wife (Kirsten Dunst), he wouldn’t trust Oscar Isaac to mow his lawn. We were hooked.
Hitchcock traversed the territory first with Highsmith, figuring out that two wrongs just multiply like rabbits.
Comeuppance is hard to come by with characters like these. You can enter and exit by the same egress, but you may end up in some time/space continuum where crime pays the last man standing.
It’s inevitable that the two dubious characters end up playing father and son to escape the law when they have a history of disrespecting their fathers. It’s a delicious Highsmith irony.
Hossein Amini enters the directorial sweepstakes with an impressive start. We are lately compiling a list of intelligent filmmakers who have managed to pass through movie doorways by-passing the deplorable extinction of true movie fans.
Keep those complicated movie plots coming. A few of us dinosaurs are feeding off them.