The Two Faces of January Blu-ray Review
Oscar Isaac burst onto the scene a few years ago and has been making incredible choices like his undervalued starring role in INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (and of course you saw him flying the X-wing in the new STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS trailer, right?). Similarly, the film choices of Viggo Mortensen have been equally impressive, from his emergence as a leading man in the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy to his work with David Cronenberg (A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE), it seems he just continues to choose the best work out there… or maybe in the case of both of these men it has less to do with the quality of the movie than it does the quality of the performances they offer? Perhaps a good way to judge is to check a recent movie featuring both, THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY, recently released on Blu-ray.
THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY was based on a novel of the same name written by Patricia Highsmith, author of The Talented Mr. Ripley (upon which Matt Damon’s under-rated 1999 starring-vehicle was based). THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY is a similar story of intrigue only in this film we legitimately don’t know who is the good guy or bad guy (or girl); instead we just know these are all people who take advantage of those around them. Starring Mortensen and Isaac alongside Kirsten Dunst, THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY takes place almost entirely in Greece where Mortensen’s Chester MacFarland appears to be taking a trip with his beautiful, younger wife (Dunst, who I guess is moderately beautiful and definitively younger than Mortensen) when they’re spotted by Isaac’s charming grafter, Rydal.
Rydal is also an American, overseas by choice to get away from his family. But as he becomes more involved with the MacFarlands, Rydal starts to realize that he may be in over his head in a game with players much bigger than he’s ever imagined. The plot is [almost] kicked into gear around the 15 minute and by then the audience just wants something of consequence to happen. But when it does, instead of being a surprise it’s just a bit disappointing. A little bit a cross between Mortensen’s own A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE and the aforementioned Ripley stories, we find out the MacFarland’s are actually trying to evade detection in Europe because Chester stole money from someone important (the mob? Crooked cops? It’s never explained.) So, when they’re found in their hotel room by a private investigator you almost think the movie is going to go somewhere.
And it does go somewhere, or rather, the opposite. It goes nowhere. Slowly. THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY is a ship caught in a whirlpool, it can’t escape and it can’t connect. In a good thriller pacing is key but you can’t establish a pace until you establish characters and their world. That is something THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY never does, choosing instead to rely on brief glimpses that don’t really take advantage of the phenomenal actors they have. I have to put this squarely on the shoulders of the director, Hossein Amini, who wrote DRIVE but then gave us the droll 47 RONIN.
THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY could have been a home run, it should have been. But somewhere things were lost in translation and we’re left with pretty people wearing pretty clothes in very pretty country but not much else. Watching a movie like this is such a disappointment. But it does answer the question we posed at the front end of this discussion. The actors cannot singly make the movie great, no matter how good they are. Both Isaac and Mortensen chew on the scenery enough that some hardcore fans will find this blasphemous, but THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY, sadly, just can’t keep up.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.39:1) The video on THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY is breathtaking, a shame on a movie with such a poorly construed plotline.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio for THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY is satisfactory but it doesn’t do anything really special.
Deleted Scenes (06:03) A number of scenes cut from THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY are presented here. There isn’t anything really special or needed and most of them would have slowed the already dull pacing of the film.
Bloopers (03:48) Some interesting moments from behind the scenes on THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY. Bloopers on hardcore dramas/thrillers are kind of difficult to gauge, they just don’t make sense to me.
Traveling in Style (02:33) Short featurette on the style, specifically the costumes, of THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY.
Shooting the Odyssey (02:51) Another extremely short featuretee, this one focuss on the way THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY came together.
A Twist on the Classic Thriller (03:09) The cast and crew are interviewed about why they chose to be involved in THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY and discuss the appeal of this stylized take on the thriller.
AXS TV: A Look at THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY (02:32) A short promo video featuring interviews and snippets from THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY. The quintessential AXS TV special feature. I would have liked to have seen something much longer.
THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY Blu-ray release also features the original theatrical trailer for the film.