The Two Faces of January

Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, this DVD from 2013 caught my attention because the movie title mentions ‘January’ and I was curious what it refers to.

The opening scene takes place at The Parthenon (in Athens, Greece) whare a New York couple, Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen) and his wife Colette (Kristen Dunst) encounters a tour guide Rydal (Oscar Isacc). Rydal, a working student from New Jersey, is drawn to Colette’s beauty and impressed by Chester’s wealth and sophistication.

When Rydal visits the couple at their exclusive hotel, he discovers Chester has killed a bounty hunter from New York to get back the money for the clients that Chester had swindled, and becomes an unwitting accomplice.

On the run, the three of them journeyed to Iraklion on foot, during which Chester knocks Rydal unconscious and kills Colette. When Rydal awakens, he goes after Chester and they come to a compromise.

Chester tries to outwit Rydal and escapes to Istanbul. Ten days later, he is forced to meet Rydal when the latter makes a surprise call to him. Chester is eventually shot by the police during a chase, but in his dying breath, he admits to swindling his clients, killing the bounty hunter and framing Rydal, who is then repatriated.

In the movie, Chester is supposed to be 38 years old and Colette in her early or mid-20s, but to me they look like they are at least 15 years older! Could it be partly due to the make-up and hair design? Or should some other actors have been cast in the roles? Also, by the end of the movie, I still had no clue what the title means. Perhaps I’ll find out if I read the book?


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