The Two Faces of January

Critics Consensus

With striking visuals, complex characters, and Hitchcockian plot twists, The Two Faces of January offers a pleasantly pungent treat for fans of romantic thrillers.



Total Count: 121


Audience Score

User Ratings: 14,384
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Movie Info

Screenwriter Hossein Amini (The Wings of the Dove, Drive) makes a stylish directing debut with this sleek thriller set in Greece and Istanbul, 1962, and adapted from Patricia Highsmith's novel. Intrigue begins at the Parthenon when wealthy American tourists Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen) and his young wife Collete (Kirsten Dunst) meet American expat Rydal (Oscar Isaac), a scammer working as a tour guide. Instead of becoming his latest marks, the two befriend him, but a murder at the couple's hotel puts all three on the run together and creates a precarious bond between them as the trio's allegiance is put to the test. (C) Magnolia

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Viggo Mortensen
as Chester MacFarland
Kirsten Dunst
as Colette MacFarland
David Warshofsky
as Paul Vittorio
Prometheus Aleifer
as Young Musician
S. Alafouzos
as Customs Hall Policeman
Ozan Tas
as Hotelier
Nikos Mavrakis
as Young Greek Man on Boat
Karayianni Margaux
as College Student
Evgenia Dimitropoulou
as Airline Agent
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Critic Reviews for The Two Faces of January

All Critics (121) | Top Critics (30)

  • [Hossein Amini's] polished storytelling carries this along, generally compensating for the mundane visuals and the actors' skilled but unmoored performances.

    Dec 11, 2014 | Full Review…
  • At a certain point, it's akin to reading a mediocre murder mystery. You finish it because you're too far in to quit, as opposed to actually caring how things wrap up.

    Oct 16, 2014 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…
  • What the movie lacks in suspense, it could make up for with erotic tension. That's missing, too.

    Oct 10, 2014 | Full Review…
  • Everything about The Two Faces of January is right, even as the events it describes - a couple's idyllic Grecian holiday, a charming American's adventures abroad - go terribly wrong.

    Oct 10, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • The movie never reaches a boil. Instead, it simmers and simmers until you're suddenly shocked at the hot water you're in.

    Oct 9, 2014 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • Things get awfully twisted under that hot Mediterranean sun.

    Oct 9, 2014 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for The Two Faces of January

  • Jan 31, 2018
    Elegantly filmed and well acted Patricia Highsmith adaptation with a great chemistry between the characters and pretty images of Greece. The big shocker happens already in the middle of the film, from there on out it's still interesting to see where all this is going, but never nail-biting intense. The result is overall still pretty satisfying thanks to the actors.
    Jens S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 23, 2016
    Average. I mainly watched for Kirsten Dunst. *****mild spoiler***** I wasn't too impressed when she exits the film one hour in. Chester and Rydel were not interesting enough to carry the movie on their own. It's certainly not badly made, but it felt like there should have been a twist or something at the end, and there just wasn't. I didn't even really get why Chester helped at the end. What was in it for him at that point?
    Nicki M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 31, 2015
    The Two Faces of January represents an interesting exercise in a romantic thriller, one with promising characters and talented leads, yet with an ultimate ho-hum execution which makes it a rather unremarkable entry to the genre. When a low-level con artist meets a wealthy American couple touring Europe, he soon finds himself hopelessly in love with the young the wife, and trouble follows. The film, adapted from a novel, does a good job of setting a tone. The characters find themselves in increasingly precarious situations and emotions, creating a web of intrigue and complex characterizations. In this sense, the film had a very mature feeling that I appreciated. Its pace was fluid yet methodical, and the overall direction was tight and focused. What the film lacked for me, however, was a heart. Not in the sense that it was too bleak, but in the sense that one can scarcely determine what the film is trying to say, what it wants to get across. It's almost bleak for the sake of bleak. The chemistry between the leads also leaves a lot to be desired, despite a talented cast, symptomatic of the failure of the script to really make us relate to the characters. We never fully get a grip on what lengths Viggo Mortensen's character is able to go, and the romantic overtones between Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac never ring true. The result is a film which feels competent, but not passionate or original. Solid in many ways, not particularly memorable. 3/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 04, 2015
    An atmospheric noir thriller, The Two Faces of January is full of suspense and mystery. Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst star as a married couple travelling through Greece, but when they're discovered by a P.I. they enlist the help of a local tour guide to get them new passports and escape the country. The performances are fairly good, and the costumes and sets feel remarkable authentic to the time period. However, the story hints at more intrigue than there actually is, and it lacks a third act twist. Yet even though The Two Faces of January doesn't quite live-up to expectations, it still manages to deliver a compelling tale of deception and betrayal.
    Dann M Super Reviewer

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