Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 96 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 13+. This is a slow-burn thriller about two con artists unexpectedly linked to each other, so there is some violence (a couple of characters die in accidental ways) and cursing; lots of drinking and a character becoming belligerent because of that; and some talk about sex and marital infidelity, married characters kissing on a bed, and a woman’s bare back as she changes.
‘The Two Faces of January,’ adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s original novel, is a slow-burning thriller that functions mostly as a character study. Oscar Isaac and Viggo Mortensen provide well-done, appropriately tricky performances, but the rest of the film isn’t at their level.
By Roxana Hadadi
In Patricia Smith’s novels, you’re never really safe: suspicion, paranoia, and fear permeate through every character, every interaction, every relationship, everything. Those tales of greed, lust, and selfishness translate excellently onto the big screen—or at least they did with Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train” and Anthony Minghella’s “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” her two most popular adaptations. In comparison, “The Two Faces of January” is fine, but it’s more like a distilled version of Highsmith’s themes than a true probing of them. Something truly electric is missing.