The swinging 60s are always remembered as the years in which rules were broken and freedom was celebrated. Meet Mr and Mrs MacFarland, a glamourous couple on a vacation in Greece. With the aura of two Hollywood stars, dressed in a cream linen suit and cream high-waisted dress with elegant straw hats, Chester (Viggo Mortensen) and Colette (Kirsten Dunst) strut down the path beneath the pillars of the Acropolis, without a care in the world.
That’s when they first catch the eye of Rydal (Oscar Isaac), a young American tourist guide and con man. Entranced by the appearance of the two rich-looking Americans, he tries to get close to them. As the story goes on, the characters begin to unravel and reveal their true selves. Dirty truths and uncomfortable lies are uncovered, and soon it’s no longer clear who is using who and who is in more danger.
While Kirsten Dunst plays the charming but hysterical Colette very well, Oscar Isaac manages to make the audience sympathize with his shady character Rydal and is an excellent adversary and accomplice at the same time. Rydal is a great partner for Viggo Mortensen to play against, but Mortensen’s performance shines the most out of all three. From a handsome man in his best years, he turns into a weary crook who took too many wrong turns in life, and is now torn between regret and the urge to keep on going on a dangerous path.
The story is originally by one of the greatest female writers of the 60s, who is also famous for writing The Talented Mr Ripley: Patricia Highsmith. It has a very Hitchcockian feel to it and Hitchcock himself adapted Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers On A Train, which brought her recognition early on in her writing career.
For The Two Faces Of January, Highsmith’s story was adapted by the writer of Drive, Hossein Amini. It is also his directorial debut and first feature film – and a damn good one at that. With a lot of suspense, intense character work, a brilliant cast, majestic settings such as the backdrop of the Greek Parthenon and Cretan countryside, he manages to take the audience on a wild ride and captivates the viewer from the first minute to the last.
As director Hossein Amini and actors Viggo Mortensen and Daisy Bevan celebrated their premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, Flicks And The City caught up with them on the red carpet.
Hossein Amini chats about going back to screenwriting, shooting a movie set in the 60s, and what attracted him to Patricia Highsmith’s novel:
Viggo Mortensen wasn’t convinced by Highsmith’s novel at first, but tells us why he still came on board the project and whether he prefers a Hitchcock remake or a Highsmith adaptation:
Just like her character in the film, who arrives at a light moment, Daisy Bevan is a fresh young actress joining a cast of experienced actors: