I give the film a C. Like I said, the performances are what saves this from being forgettable or even laughable thanks to that awful last act. Still, the initial premise and set up are really inspired and well put together, I just wish that the later half of the script felt as fresh. Oscar won't touch this, but I'd love to see Bening pop up at the Spirit Awards.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
You’re just somebody that I used to know; I think…
They say that everyone has a doppelganger. They say that out there you have a double. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to meet them?
Oh wait, I’m mixing up my ‘double’ movies. This isn’t ‘Enemy’.
Let’s start over.
Have you ever walked up to someone all excited, calling out a name, only to find that that person is not who you thought they were? We’ve all done it. I do it almost every week when my wife decides she’s going to wander Target and I have to try and locate her with three kids in tow. But, I’m not really talking about that “they have the same color hair and I think that’s the shirt my wife was wearing this morning” kind of mistake. I’m talking about those moments where you see someone from afar…you see their FACE…and you know that they are someone who they eventually wind up not being. What if you swore it was someone who has died? What if it was your dead husband?
In ‘The Face of Love’, Nikki faces this very situation. Five years after the tragic drowning of her husband, Garrett, Nikki is still mourning. He was the love of her life, and she can’t let go. She had to remove every reminder of him from her life, trying to distance herself from his memory, but she just can’t move on. Then something unexplainable happens. She sees, from a distance, a man who she swears is her husband. She shrugs it off, but she can’t let it go, and so she stalks him, finds out where he works, Googles his name and winds up standing in his classroom (he’s an art teacher), asking him for private art lessons.
Of course, they fall in love.
For the whole first quarter of the film, I was waiting for this to uncover itself as some lazy ghost story, but thankfully that idea gets squashed relatively quickly once we all meet Tom, the double’s, ex-wife. What builds from this point forward is a really interesting story about a woman who is trying to hold onto her past by building a future. The relationship is obviously unhealthy, because it is prohibiting Nikki from really moving on. She isn’t forming a new bond, a new relationship. She is fooling herself into thinking that she still has a piece of her husband, and she doesn’t.
Sadly, what builds as a really interesting premise is kind of completely shrugged off in the last act. We are all waiting for this reveal, for Nikki to finally come clean and the climax to occur, but once it does it is all so anticlimactic and kind of lazy that I was almost hoping they would have bypassed that whole step altogether. The fact that the last act actually makes the two main characters, especially Tom, look like idiots doesn’t help.
I mean, really? You go where? And THEN you start asking questions? And then, what next? You’re really NOT going to tell us?
But, the performances here from both Harris and Bening are actually beautiful to watch. Bening is remarkable here (until the last act, where she comes slightly unhinged and the script betrays her talent). Harris starts off hammy (when he’s playing Garrett in flashbacks) and I was really scared, but his portrayal of Tom is so tender and so natural. The supporting cast is fine. Sometimes Robin Williams is just uncomfortable to look at or watch act. I don’t know what it is, but he just breathes out this nervous energy that can be hard to take.
Alas, ‘The Face of Love’, as a complete film, is kind of a bust. It asks all these great questions and presents a really intriguing premise and then throws away its big chance to make it all stick. But it’s well worth checking out. It’s a brisk film with two really lovable leads, so despite my moderately low grade, I still recommend it.