Wednesday 18 October 2017

Machiavellian machinations behind an elegant facade

Like Agatha Christie before her, Patricia Highsmith repeatedly challenged the moral compass of her readers with disturbing psychological thrillers that nudged her characters to the brink of madness.

The Two Faces Of January indulges in obsession-fuelled skulduggery albeit against a vivid backdrop of sun-baked 1960s Athens.

Hossein Amini's slow-burning film version conceals its Machiavellian machinations behind an elegant facade of impeccable period costumes and picturesque cinematography.

Yet, while this assured directorial debut is sweeping in scope, the focus of Amini's lean script is the characters' strained relationships and notably the frayed bonds of trust between two men, who must rely on each other to escape a hairy predicament of their own making.

The film opens at the Acropolis where American businessman Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen) and younger wife Colette (Kirsten Dunst) cut elegant figures on the steps of the citadel.

Greek-speaking guide Rydal (Oscar Isaac), who scams unsuspecting tourists out of hard-earned drachmas, is drawn to the glamorous couple and he gladly accepts their invitation to dinner.At the end of the night, as he makes his way home, Rydal discovers Colette has mislaid a possession on the back seat of the taxi so he asks the driver to make a detour to the MacFarlands' exclusive hotel.

Unexpectedly, Rydal walks in on Chester moving the seemingly unconscious body of a man (David Warshofsky) into another room. The businessman explains that he was protecting his wife.

Blinded by his infatuation with Colette, Rydal pledges his help and suggests a means to obtain fake passports and escape the country. As the trio heads for the coast, the police give chase.

Shot on location in Greece and Turkey, The Two Faces Of January nods appreciatively to both Highsmith and Hitchcock, ratcheting up tension as the two men trade verbal blows in order to secure Colette's divided affections.

Mortensen and Isaac relish these fractious exchanges, creating a twisted father-son dynamic with Oedipal yearnings for Dunst's third wheel.

Her role feels slightly undernourished but she's pivotal to the on-screen chicanery and the film's centrepiece sequence in subterranean gloom.

Because it's under the comforting cloak of darkness that men's ugly, true natures are revealed.

Wexford People

Night at the dogs 

5 GREYHOUND RACE NIGHT CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL FUNDRAISER. The annual Enniscorthy Christmas fundraising night at the dogs takes place this Thursday, September 21, at Enniscorthy Greyhound Track. Gates open at 7 p.m and the first race is at 8 p.m. The event is being organised by Enniscorthy and District Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Enniscorthy Business Association. All money raised on the night will go towards the Christmas festival events and will ensure that Enniscorthy at Christmas is magical for...

Song project in Kilmuckridge 

5 LOCAL SONG PROJECT: Traditional singer Aileen Lambert will facilitate a new project focusing on exploring local songs and unaccompanied traditional singing in Kilmuckridge. Starting this Wednesday, September 13 from 7.30 p.m. in Bridie Hammel's Pub this project will take place over the course of a number of weeks. Local songs such as the Tinneaberna Fisherman will be researched and performed as part of the project and at the end a booklet will be produced along with videos featuring local songs and local singers. For more...

Antiques fair in Wells House 

7 ANTIQUES FAIR: There will be a two day antiques fair in Wells House, Gorey this weekend. Taking place on both Saturday, September 16 and Sunday, September 17, this is a unique opportunity for antique lovers to get their hands on some quality antiques. Wells House will play host to Chantal Fortune who will oversee the event with her vast knowledge and expertise of all this antique. Those attending will be able to immerse themselves in the beautiful Tudor Gothic architecture and be transported back to the past with its beautiful...