reviewed one on this blog, but not only have I not read The Two Faces of January I hadn't any idea of the basic plot. Nor did I want to know before I saw the movie. From the opening scenes in which Viggo Mortenson and Kirsten Dunst are touring Greek ruins in their elegant attire to the final violent moments I was riveted. It may be one of the few sun-drenched noir movies in existence. Sun and heat and Greek ruins have never been more sinister on film.
Highsmith's fascination with male bonding, friendship and fraternity is augmented in this story by a very strange surrogate father fixation in the attraction Rydal has for Chester. The catch is Rydal hated his real father who we learn has recently died at the opening of the movie. Yet he cannot help being drawn to Chester who uncannily resembles his dead father. Their initial meeting is all about stares and penetrating gazes and the father/son motif inexorably plays out in a dangerous and ultimately heartbreaking manner.
By the time the movie was about halfway done I suddenly had to know if it was being faithful to Highsmith's novel. So I went searching online for a book review or a plot summary and found that it was very much true to her novel with only a few minor tweaks. Having watched this cat and mouse game played out in the blazing Greek sun with more than a few references to it rich mythological heritage not the least of which is the eerie reverse Oedipal psyche I am now eager to read the book. I'm curious if Highsmith focusses more on young Rydal and his twisted family life and also if she delved into mythology as much as Amini did.