Thrills from ‘The Two Faces of January’

Undated Film Still Handout from The Two Faces Of January. Pictured: Viggo Mortensen as Chester MacFarland. See PA Feature FILM FILM Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Studio Canal. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM FILM Reviews.

Undated Film Still Handout from The Two Faces Of January. Pictured: Viggo Mortensen as Chester MacFarland. See PA Feature FILM FILM Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Studio Canal. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM FILM Reviews.

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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.

Almost 50 years after her debut novel, ‘Strangers On A Train’, was adapted brilliantly for screen by Hitchcock, Anthony Minghella turned her 1955 novel ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ into a hauntingly seductive jaunt through Italy.

‘The Two Faces Of January’ opens at the Acropolis where businessman Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen) and wife Colette (Kirsten Dunst) cut elegant figures on the steps of the citadel where Greek-speaking guide Rydal (Oscar Isaac) is drawn to the glamorous couple.

Shot entirely on location in Greece and Turkey, the film makes a nod to both Highsmith and Hitchcock, and ratchets up the tension as the two men trade verbal blows.

Dunst’s role feels slightly undernourished, but she’s pivotal to the on-screen chicanery and the film’s centrepiece sequence.