SFIFF57 Report: Hossein Amini’s “The Two Faces of January”

TwoFacesOfJanuary_01It is not wise to judge a book by its cover. Likewise, one should not judge a film festival on its Opening Night movie, or even on its 35 second seizure-inducing trailer for that matter.

Career screenwriter Hossein Amini‘s directorial debut starts off promising but quickly loses its traction, turning any hope for surefooted and slow building intrigue, via winks and nods to the noir of yesteryear, into something more suitable for forty winks and/or a lesson on how to race through one’s script as fast as possible.


It’s 1962, and as circumstances would have it American couple Mr. and Mrs. Macfarland (Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst), along with their personal tour guide (Oscar Isaac, fresh off his role as Llewyn Davis, which took place in 1961, which makes this a sequel?) are in Greece and on the run from the authorities for committing… dun dun dun dun… Murder! From here suspense was supposed to ensue, but not even the aid of a few jump scares and a lame foot chase can help out in that department.

Try as they may, not even the highly capable acting talents of the film’s three stars were enough to breathe life into this dull exercise of rushed storytelling. Without specifically mentioning any actual titles, Hossein did state in his opening remarks that this film was a sort of homage to other films that were made during the early 1960s. Apparently Mr. Amini has a fondness for noir films of the exceptionally average variety from that time period.

Showtimes for Two Faces of January: This was the only festival screening, but don’t worry if you missed it you can always miss it again come September when it opens in San Francisco.


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Categories: Reviews, San Francisco International Film Festival

One Comment on “SFIFF57 Report: Hossein Amini’s “The Two Faces of January””

  1. May 24, 2014 at 3:27 am #

    Your review is very funny! I recently wrote a review of the film too (http://suzannecamfield.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/review-the-two-faces-of-january/) – I really enjoyed the film.

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