Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: The Face of Love

Arid drama stars Annette Bening as a widow who encounters her late husband’s double.

March 6, 2014

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1395388-Face_Of_Love_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Los Angeles never looked better than in Arie Posen's The Face of Love, especially the house belonging to its heroine, Nikki (Annette Bening). It's an intriguingly oblong affair, at once sleekly modernistic and cozy, impeccably decorated and wrapping itself around an elegant matching oblong-shaped pool. I emphasize this house—a dream to live in—mainly because it is the most interesting thing in the film, a wan Vertigo-ish affair in which Nikki, a seriously grieving widow, finds love again in the shape of Tom (Ed Harris), a dead ringer for her late husband Garrett (Harris again).

Unlike James Stewart with Kim Novak in the Hitchcock film, however, there is no need for Nikki to make over Tom to be worthy of her love. He's the perfect, age-appropriate guy, himself mourning a wife who walked out on him, and a talented painter to boot. After the requisite bumpy start, in which Nikki freaks out over being "reunited" with her dead love, their affection steadily grows, abetted by a visit to her and her husband's favorite sushi restaurant, where a groan-inducing Japanese chef clucks over them like a mother hen.

One assumes it is the wish to not appear too creepy which keeps Nikki from telling Tom that she is widowed and he is a doppelgänger for her husband. The truth comes out somewhat in a clumsy scene in which her daughter, Summer (more groans here), unsurely played by Jess Weixler, happens upon them and really freaks out. Mama chooses man over daughter, and goes with him to Mexico for a suddenly fraught, overly dramatic denouement in which all is revealed, followed by a possible drowning that again evokes Vertigo, as well as that other creepy ode to the dead returning for romance, Portrait of Jennie.

What could have made this clanking contraption of a film work would have been charismatically involving performances from its more-than-able leads. But Posen's insecure style of shooting, relying too heavily on close-ups and endless cuts back and forth between their concerned faces, robs the actors of any fluid rhythm or potent connection. Bening works hard, mooning sorrowfully about her gorgeous, empty house and pensively stalking Tom at first, but her portrayal of Nikki is more picturesque than penetrating. A wizened-looking Harris doesn't have all that much to do, and Posen's emphasis on his supposed great, thwarted gift as a painter unfortunately only calls up the popular but, for this critic, very synthetic Pollock. A weirdly waxy Robin Williams has a thankless role as Nikki's neighbor, also with a conveniently dead spouse, who is unrequitedly in love with her. As is so often the case when given a serious role in which his manic energy is tamped down, Williams falls back on merely simpering. Marcelo Zarvos' soupy, swooning music continually attempts to imbue deep emotion into a movie that, for all of its thrashing about, is actually pretty arid.


Film Review: The Face of Love

Arid drama stars Annette Bening as a widow who encounters her late husband’s double.

March 6, 2014

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1395388-Face_Of_Love_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Los Angeles never looked better than in Arie Posen's The Face of Love, especially the house belonging to its heroine, Nikki (Annette Bening). It's an intriguingly oblong affair, at once sleekly modernistic and cozy, impeccably decorated and wrapping itself around an elegant matching oblong-shaped pool. I emphasize this house—a dream to live in—mainly because it is the most interesting thing in the film, a wan Vertigo-ish affair in which Nikki, a seriously grieving widow, finds love again in the shape of Tom (Ed Harris), a dead ringer for her late husband Garrett (Harris again).

Unlike James Stewart with Kim Novak in the Hitchcock film, however, there is no need for Nikki to make over Tom to be worthy of her love. He's the perfect, age-appropriate guy, himself mourning a wife who walked out on him, and a talented painter to boot. After the requisite bumpy start, in which Nikki freaks out over being "reunited" with her dead love, their affection steadily grows, abetted by a visit to her and her husband's favorite sushi restaurant, where a groan-inducing Japanese chef clucks over them like a mother hen.

One assumes it is the wish to not appear too creepy which keeps Nikki from telling Tom that she is widowed and he is a doppelgänger for her husband. The truth comes out somewhat in a clumsy scene in which her daughter, Summer (more groans here), unsurely played by Jess Weixler, happens upon them and really freaks out. Mama chooses man over daughter, and goes with him to Mexico for a suddenly fraught, overly dramatic denouement in which all is revealed, followed by a possible drowning that again evokes Vertigo, as well as that other creepy ode to the dead returning for romance, Portrait of Jennie.

What could have made this clanking contraption of a film work would have been charismatically involving performances from its more-than-able leads. But Posen's insecure style of shooting, relying too heavily on close-ups and endless cuts back and forth between their concerned faces, robs the actors of any fluid rhythm or potent connection. Bening works hard, mooning sorrowfully about her gorgeous, empty house and pensively stalking Tom at first, but her portrayal of Nikki is more picturesque than penetrating. A wizened-looking Harris doesn't have all that much to do, and Posen's emphasis on his supposed great, thwarted gift as a painter unfortunately only calls up the popular but, for this critic, very synthetic Pollock. A weirdly waxy Robin Williams has a thankless role as Nikki's neighbor, also with a conveniently dead spouse, who is unrequitedly in love with her. As is so often the case when given a serious role in which his manic energy is tamped down, Williams falls back on merely simpering. Marcelo Zarvos' soupy, swooning music continually attempts to imbue deep emotion into a movie that, for all of its thrashing about, is actually pretty arid.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Drive Hard
Film Review: Drive Hard

A car-chase-heavy clunker whose vehicular set-pieces are almost as lame as the recurring sight of star John Cusack attempting to look cool while firing pistols. More »

Harmontown
Film Review: Harmontown

Open-nerve documentary about “Community” creator Dan Harmon’s chaotic live podcast tour after being fired from his own TV show is sometimes raggedly funny, but truly a fans-only artifact. More »

The Liberator
Film Review: The Liberator

Impressively mounted but overly truncated take on a great historical figure about whom much more needs to be known. More »

The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin
Film Review: The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin

Wide-ranging primer is involving but leaves some details hazy. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Equalizer Review
Film Review: The Equalizer

Former agent is drawn out of hiding to fight a Russian gang in a reboot of the 1980s television series. More »

The Boxtrolls
Film Review: The Boxtrolls

Another amazingly meticulous and stylish stop-motion tale from the Laika studio, this time focusing on a boy adopted by a population of maligned underground trolls. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here