Two Faces of January, now out on DVD, is a deceptive movie that mixes intriguing character drama with uneasy, slow building suspense.
Based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, the movie is set in Greece in the early Sixties. Three main characters come into accidental contact. Chester McFarland, middle-aged, and his much younger wife, Collette, are seemingly normal tourists in Athens. Rydal Keener is a young American ex-pat working as a tour guide while running minor money cons on the side.
In reality, Chester is an embezzler on the run after stealing investment funds from clients. Rydal is openly attracted to Collette as the three of them become acquainted. When Chester gets involved in an unexpected death, Rydal impulsively agrees to abet the couple's hasty flight to Crete to avoid the police.
Why does Rydal get himself entangled in a crime? Why does Chester allow Rydal to hang around with them, despite his obvious flirtation with Collette? This unstable triangle moves tensely toward an outcome we are never sure of. The plot has an edgy unpredictability that generates apprehension of something dangerous coming, but what is it?
Whether you read the Highsmith novel or see the movie version, Two Faces of January is a nice choice for fans of chilly, ominous suspense dramas.