Metascore
66

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Oct 10, 2014
    88
    This is Highsmith, and so things do not go as planned for her protagonists. The Two Faces of January - drop-dead gorgeous to behold - is not a merry tale, but a murderous one. Murderously good.
  2. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Sep 24, 2014
    88
    Carefully directed and gorgeous to look at, with haunting performances and maximum suspense.
  3. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Sep 25, 2014
    80
    There’s a mystery here, some thrills and blood, but mostly there are beautiful people and the kind of human hunger that devours everything and everyone in sight.
  4. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Sep 25, 2014
    80
    Amini has a powerful acting triumvirate in Mortensen, Dunst and Isaac to help him deal with the capricious nature of this particular tangled web.
  5. Reviewed by: Dave Calhoun
    Aug 26, 2014
    80
    Dunst handles her sidekick role with a mature ease that’s new to her, but it’s the men you remember: Mortensen in psychological freefall and Isaac always tough to read and hiding something behind a handsome, controlled exterior. It’s a gentle and smart blast from the past.
  6. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    May 12, 2014
    80
    A superior directorial debut for a smart, literate screenwriter delivers both first-class character drama and edge-of-your-seat suspense.
  7. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Feb 14, 2014
    80
    Best known as the screenwriter of such subtext-rich adaptations as “The Wings of the Dove” and “Drive,” Amini excels at conveying the subtle, unspoken tensions between characters, selecting a tightrope-risky example with which to make his directorial debut and orchestrating it with aplomb.
  8. Reviewed by: Tim Robey
    Feb 11, 2014
    80
    It’s an elegantly pleasurable period thriller, a film of tidy precision and class.
  9. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Oct 9, 2014
    75
    This is an unusual role for Mortensen, but after you’ve played a thinking woman’s hunk so long and so well, what else is there?
  10. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Oct 9, 2014
    75
    That Hossein Amini, in his first outing as a director, kept all three of these well-known actors in perfect balance suggests a filmmaker who knows how to steer a performance.
  11. Reviewed by: Jeff Baker
    Oct 3, 2014
    75
    A pleasant entertainment, the term Graham Greene used for his thrillers, but slips away from memory as quickly as a summer evening.
  12. Reviewed by: Odie Henderson
    Sep 26, 2014
    75
    It’s Mortensen and his smokes that seal the deal. Puffing away, he is dangerously sexy and morally dubious, the latter of which makes perfect sense as we are in Patricia Highsmith territory.
  13. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Sep 25, 2014
    75
    Mortensen and Isaac, expertly exchanging the faces of loyalty and betrayal, are both outstanding. Is the film too old-school for short attention spans? Maybe. Rest assured that Amini's shuddery endgame is well worth the wait.
  14. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Sep 25, 2014
    70
    A subtle, underplayed psychological drama with terrific work by all three actors.
  15. Reviewed by: Sam Weisberg
    Sep 23, 2014
    70
    Mortensen is a pro at the slow burn, and he adds genuinely frightening layers of impulsiveness to this tempest-in-a-teapot scenario. The freshest twist is that each man has a notable advantage over the other.
  16. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    Feb 11, 2014
    70
    On his first trip behind the camera, the British-Iranian Amini shows his skill at working with actors and sensing the way they can fill out literary characters. His screenplay generally feels more naturalistic than Highsmith, the dialogue less spare.
  17. Reviewed by: Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
    Sep 24, 2014
    67
    January skirts by on its tastefulness and appreciation for the source material, however single-minded. It’s a movie of small pleasures: slow-burn suspense; period flavor, with an emphasis on the textures, clothes, and luggage; an effective score by Pedro Almodovar’s regular composer, Alberto Iglesias.
  18. Reviewed by: Tara Karajica
    Feb 18, 2014
    67
    Amini's directorial debut is a quiet and graceful achievement that suffers from a number of shortcomings but still works on its own terms.


  19. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Sep 25, 2014
    63
    A sun-splashed noir that loses its appeal in the last act.
  20. Reviewed by: Clayton Dillard
    Sep 21, 2014
    63
    Superbly acted and sporadically intriguing thriller, yet it has a difficult time locating more stringent meaning and significance beyond its outward narrative of duplicitous actions and veiled motivations.
  21. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Sep 27, 2014
    60
    If you wait for the grift, you’ll only be disappointed. There are no jolting twists or shocking reveals. The reward lies mostly in accepting each character on his or her terms.
  22. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Sep 8, 2014
    60
    For a first-time director, Amini demonstrates considerable skill both with actors and with the camera, giving the film a pungent balance of visual elegance and moral seediness.
  23. Reviewed by: Steve Rose
    Aug 26, 2014
    60
    There are many attractive parts to this thriller – handsome leads, a meaty Patricia Highsmith plot, Mediterranean sunlight on cream linen suits – but it's no greater than the sum of them.
  24. Reviewed by: Philip Kemp
    Aug 26, 2014
    60
    Amini’s film offers elegant pleasures and holds the interest – but it never grips as it should.
  25. Reviewed by: Jessica Kiang
    Feb 10, 2014
    58
    It's a sterile affair, no ambiguity, no ambivalence, just people doing one thing and then another.
  26. Reviewed by: Randy Cordova
    Oct 16, 2014
    50
    The movie is not uninteresting, but a viewer isn't breathlessly waiting to see how things will wrap up, either. By the third act, you even start to get impatient with the characters. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement.
  27. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Sep 29, 2014
    50
    You should see it just for Chester — the adventurous sham, running ever deeper into a maze of his own devising.
  28. Reviewed by: Bilge Ebiri
    Sep 27, 2014
    50
    It’s a case of diminishing returns: gorgeous, occasionally evocative, but, in the end, mostly dull.
  29. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Sep 25, 2014
    50
    All the pieces would seem to be in place for an effective film, but the direction is zestless, the pace is more often laggardly than leisurely, and the lead performances are surprisingly lifeless, although Mr. Isaac manages to make a virtue of his scammer's deliberate vagueness.
  30. Reviewed by: Daniel Green
    May 21, 2014
    40
    Amini has proven his narrative acumen before and will undoubtedly do so again, but his inaugural stint behind the camera offers only fleeting glimpses of Highsmith's seductive, satirical prose that old hands such as Clément, Hitchcock and Minghella have so notably put to good use.
User Score
6.0

Mixed or average reviews- based on 24 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 9
  2. Negative: 2 out of 9
  1. Sep 26, 2014
    9
    Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith this suspenseful mystery drama is of the same high calibre that distinguished 'The Talented MrBased on the novel by Patricia Highsmith this suspenseful mystery drama is of the same high calibre that distinguished 'The Talented Mr Ripley' another adaptation with the same classy pedigree. This film is elevated by three compellingly nuanced performances even it's the men who steal the show. Kirsten Dunst with less screen time is still very good, but it is the chemistry between Viggo Mortenson and Oscar Isaac that makes the material zing. Watching them play the cat and mouse games afforded them by the serpentine twists and turns of a very impressive screenplay makes for enthralling viewing. Director Hussein Amir keeps his camera in close creating an edgy claustrophobic atmosphere, whilst not allowing the gorgeous Greek and Turkish locations to distract from the main drama. This may be a low key film, but it is one of high quality. Smooth editing and luminous camera work add to the distinctive achievement. My only misgiving is with the title, the meaning of which completely eludes me. Full Review »
  2. Oct 23, 2014
    3
    Weak plot, boring and no grip from beginning to end. My expectation was high but I was totally disappointed. The only positive is the heartWeak plot, boring and no grip from beginning to end. My expectation was high but I was totally disappointed. The only positive is the heart felt acting of Mr.Viggo Mortensen Full Review »
  3. Sep 27, 2014
    5
    As it often happens, this film features top notch cinematography and all-in-all good acting, but lacks the plot elements to make it completelyAs it often happens, this film features top notch cinematography and all-in-all good acting, but lacks the plot elements to make it completely intriguing, given the genre. In fact, there were a few flaws that impeded thorough enjoyment: Isaac's character is just too creepy and too little mysterious, and Kirsten Dunst is a bit gray, almost stuck in a film school persona; the mixture between mystery and thriller leans well towards thriller, while failing to deliver a thriller's thrills. Also, the psychological profiling isn't handled very carefully, with Mortensen going from a "Oh-what-have-I-done" kind of guy to a ruthless, cold calculator in a matter of minutes.

    On the other hand, the consistent choice of colours and the sandy settings provide you with a wonderful thing to look at, and as I said the actors are good. Too bad for the suspense, which really isn't there unless you fish it.
    Full Review »