A tight, stylish Hitchockian thriller, The Two Faces of January relies heavily not on superficially staged action sequences but nuanced character studies and a consistently intriguing story. The two male leads, Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Isaac, made for a compelling duo - the dynamics of their relationship endlessly evolving, shifting, reaching into darker, more formidable depths. The trust between them thinning, then waning and then growing, pulled back-and-forth, confusing the audience but in a clever, intended fashion which is wholly realistic and competently portrayed. The characters are created so that empathy for them travels through the audience. Yes, our interests are securely invested - and then the director begins to toy with out emotions. However, Kirsten Dunst seemed unreasonably strained in her role. She provided criminally devout performances in Melancholia, The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette but her character in this feature was truly lost on me. I recognised her iconic traits and her representation of Colette was not without new material. Dunst possesses irrefutable flexibility and variety (usually) but she was without a doubt ill-fitted to the role.
Beyond this however, the feature's setting is intensely attractive - you've got the ever-present green-grey waters of Greek terrain, the occasional ruin, a bleak European rural town. Cinematography reaches close vicinity of optimum use for the striking, natural beauty of the filming location. The opening shot is graceful and stunning and as the film progresses cinematographer Marcel Zyskind's artistry never falters.