4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Grecian Daddy Drama

The Two Faces of January could have been urid and awful and fun.

The Two Faces of January: “No clouds on the horizon, nossir. Everything’s hunky-dory.”
The Two Faces of January: “No clouds on the horizon, nossir. Everything’s hunky-dory.”
Movie

Two Faces of January *

thumbnail

It's not a subtle move to open your story with a tour guide (Oscar Isaac) leading a group around some sun-drenched ruins and telling site-specific stories from the Greek myths. (In this case, the story of how Theseus lost his dear old dad Aegus after killing the Minotaur.) But it's not a bad move, either. Nor is it bad to cast Viggo Mortensen as a well-dressed operator, gone to seed and on the lam with a pretty blonde wife (Kirsten Dunst) in tow. Everything is in place for something sordid-bordering-on-tragic, and if there are mythic reverberations when everything comes crashing down, so much the better. But if you're going to be blunt in your parallels, you'd better deliver something that approaches the visceral force of the original story. It could have been lurid and awful and fun. But with a few exceptions, this is good pulp obscured by good taste, reserve, detachment, what have you.

Find showtimes

It’s not a subtle move to open your story with a tour guide (Oscar Isaac) leading a group around some sun-drenched ruins and telling site-specific stories from the Greek myths. (In this case, the story of how Theseus lost his dear old dad Aegus after killing the Minotaur because he neglected to hoist the white sail of victory as he returned home. Aegus, seeing the black sail on the incoming ship, concluded that his son was dead and hurled himself into the sea in despair.) But it’s not a bad move, either. Nor is it bad to cast Viggo Mortensen as a well-dressed operator, gone to seed and on the lam with a pretty blonde wife (Kirsten Dunst) in tow. And Isaac’s huge, hooded eyes and natural frown are perfect for a guy who we’re not so sure about: sure, he’s helpful, but it’s clear he’s got his own interests to consider. Everything is in place for something sordid bordering on tragic, and if there are mythic reverberations when everything comes crashing down, so much the better.

But then director and screenwriter Hossein Amini (working from a novel by Patricia Highsmith) gives us Isaac reading a letter from home that scolds him for not attending his father’s funeral. And then he sends his characters to Crete, home of the very Labyrinth that held the mythic man-bull. If you’re going to be that blunt in your parallels, you’d better deliver something that approaches the visceral force of the original story. Sadly, The Two Faces of January, while handsomely shot and earnestly acted, never manages the wrenching tension or gut-punching passion that it needs to measure up. (This is Greece, by gum! Land of Oedipus and Cronos! Dads murdered, sons eaten!)

It could have been lurid and awful and fun. The elements are right there onscreen: you’ve got mutual desire, mutual distrust, mutual disdain, and mutual blackmail that demands the kind of forced teamwork that rarely ends well. But with a few exceptions — notably, Mortensen rubbing a sheet and sniffing his hand to see if his wife’s been cheating on him — the movie is good pulp obscured by good taste, reserve, detachment, what have you.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Clem’s Station, a place for talkies

Talmadge’s new neighborhood restaurant more about the company you keep
Next Article

Clem’s Station, a place for talkies

Talmadge’s new neighborhood restaurant more about the company you keep
The Two Faces of January: “No clouds on the horizon, nossir. Everything’s hunky-dory.”
The Two Faces of January: “No clouds on the horizon, nossir. Everything’s hunky-dory.”
Movie

Two Faces of January *

thumbnail

It's not a subtle move to open your story with a tour guide (Oscar Isaac) leading a group around some sun-drenched ruins and telling site-specific stories from the Greek myths. (In this case, the story of how Theseus lost his dear old dad Aegus after killing the Minotaur.) But it's not a bad move, either. Nor is it bad to cast Viggo Mortensen as a well-dressed operator, gone to seed and on the lam with a pretty blonde wife (Kirsten Dunst) in tow. Everything is in place for something sordid-bordering-on-tragic, and if there are mythic reverberations when everything comes crashing down, so much the better. But if you're going to be blunt in your parallels, you'd better deliver something that approaches the visceral force of the original story. It could have been lurid and awful and fun. But with a few exceptions, this is good pulp obscured by good taste, reserve, detachment, what have you.

Find showtimes

It’s not a subtle move to open your story with a tour guide (Oscar Isaac) leading a group around some sun-drenched ruins and telling site-specific stories from the Greek myths. (In this case, the story of how Theseus lost his dear old dad Aegus after killing the Minotaur because he neglected to hoist the white sail of victory as he returned home. Aegus, seeing the black sail on the incoming ship, concluded that his son was dead and hurled himself into the sea in despair.) But it’s not a bad move, either. Nor is it bad to cast Viggo Mortensen as a well-dressed operator, gone to seed and on the lam with a pretty blonde wife (Kirsten Dunst) in tow. And Isaac’s huge, hooded eyes and natural frown are perfect for a guy who we’re not so sure about: sure, he’s helpful, but it’s clear he’s got his own interests to consider. Everything is in place for something sordid bordering on tragic, and if there are mythic reverberations when everything comes crashing down, so much the better.

But then director and screenwriter Hossein Amini (working from a novel by Patricia Highsmith) gives us Isaac reading a letter from home that scolds him for not attending his father’s funeral. And then he sends his characters to Crete, home of the very Labyrinth that held the mythic man-bull. If you’re going to be that blunt in your parallels, you’d better deliver something that approaches the visceral force of the original story. Sadly, The Two Faces of January, while handsomely shot and earnestly acted, never manages the wrenching tension or gut-punching passion that it needs to measure up. (This is Greece, by gum! Land of Oedipus and Cronos! Dads murdered, sons eaten!)

It could have been lurid and awful and fun. The elements are right there onscreen: you’ve got mutual desire, mutual distrust, mutual disdain, and mutual blackmail that demands the kind of forced teamwork that rarely ends well. But with a few exceptions — notably, Mortensen rubbing a sheet and sniffing his hand to see if his wife’s been cheating on him — the movie is good pulp obscured by good taste, reserve, detachment, what have you.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

The massive, small molcajete at La Sinaloense

How regionally inspired mariscos fill a restaurant patio in La Presa
Next Article

Remembering Louis Procaccino

“He always had food in his pockets”
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close