'The Two Faces Of January' is a thriller written for the screen and directed by Hossein Amini and marks his first feature length directorial debut. The story follows Chester and Colette MacFarland, who are played by Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst respectively, as they are on holiday in Athens, Greece. We also meet Rydal, played by Oscar Isaac, an American tour guide who tends to scam the tourists of their money. One day, Rydal ends up taking the MacFarlands for a tour through the markets and scams them of their money here and there. It is clear to see that the MacFarlands are a well off couple as they are staying in a grand hotel, eating in fancy restaurants, etc. However, when a private detective turns up at their door asking for his clients money back, the MacFarlands are forced to run away, with the assistance of Rydal.
The film as a whole is very clean-cut and is a very good looking film. It's not an overly complicated storyline to follow and for a first time director, it is a great piece of work. The story is well executed and is very good at making the audience question the motives of each character. Perhaps the most obvious question during the film was why Rydal was willing to help this couple run away from their past? Is it because he thinks they can help him get back home? Is it for financial gain? Or is it because he has an interest in Colette? And so during the entire film, Oscar Isaac does a terrific job of keeping Rydal's true intention ambiguous till the end of the film. Viggo Mortensen also does a good job as a man who is looking for any all possibilities of escape. Kirsten Dunst was probably the weakest character in the film as she simply came off as a catalyst for the suspicion and hatred between the two men.
One of the main flaws I found when watching this film, was that it was a little bit slow to get under way and even when the race began, it still felt as if there wasn't any of that immediate danger you would normally find when you are suddenly on the run from the authorities and various other who are trying to find you. However one of the best aspects of the film was that of the suspense. When a scene demanded suspense Amini has done an excellent job at heightening the danger of a situation. There was one very good scene that was done in one take where Rydal was walking through the airport and every time he spotted a policeman he would turn the other way. After twisting and turning multiple times during the shot he makes it out of the airport without being noticed and the audience can breathe a sigh of relief.
Overall, a good looking film with great acting from both Mortensen and Isaac as they play men who both despise each other yet they have no choice but to work together so as to make it to safety. With excellent use of suspense when needed to balance out the drama, Amini's directorial debut is one that has proved he is an easily capable director and I look forward to more films that he has to offer in the future. All in all, 3 out of 5.
So which director do you think has had the best directorial debut? Comment below.