The Two Faces of January

Adapted from a Patricia Highsmith novel, this Mediterranean intrigue centers on the tangled love triangle between a swindler hiding out in Athens (Viggo Mortensen), his not-so-devoted wife (Kirsten Dunst), and a young American tour guide (Oscar Isaac) who’s drawn to her sexually and to the husband emotionally (the man reminds him of his controlling and recently deceased father). After the swindler is cornered by, and accidentally kills, a private detective from the States, the tour guide gets pulled in as an accomplice to the crime. First-time director Hossein Amini has compiled a long screenwriting resumé adapting literary properties, from classics (Jude the Obscure, The Wings of the Dove) to mystery and crime fiction (Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, James Sallis’s Drive); his polished storytelling carries this along, generally compensating for the mundane visuals and the actors’ skilled but unmoored performances.