FACE OF LOVE, THE
Years after losing the love of her life, a moment suddenly changes Nikki (Annette Bening) forever...at first sight she falls in love again. The object of her affection, Tom (Ed Harris), is the man of her dreams - a handsome art teacher with a big heart, kind smile and zest for life. And he just happens to look exactly like Nikki's deceased husband, Garrett. Seduced by the chance to re-live her first true love, Nikki spirals into a fantasy world of life with Tom as Garrett. But as they fall even more deeply for each other, Nikki knows that soon she must reveal the truth to Tom and admit where her heart truly lies - in her fantasy of the past, or in the reality of Tom.
Review by Louise Keller:
Love may be lovelier the second time around, but it has never been as complicated as this unusual love story in which the past and the present are juxtaposed at impossible angles. Two top flight performances from Annette Bening and Ed Harris counter any qualms we may have about the preposterous premise; watching Bening and Harris together is a tantalising and sparkling affair.
In a few short scenes the premise is established when Bening's Nikki is devastated by her husband Garrett's (Harris) accidental death. It is in flashback that we learn the circumstances of that fateful night that begins happily as they celebrate their 30th anniversary in Mexico. There's a whiff of marijuana, an extravagant gift, some tequila shots, rhythm on the dance floor and a late night swim....
When the story picks up five years later in LA, it is clear that Nikki has still not come to terms with Garrett's death. Her state of mind is apparent from the conversations over red wine with Roger (Robin Williams), who is accepting of the fact that Nikki is not interested in him. The scene in which Nikki sees Tom (Harris) for the first time, sitting on a bench by the art gallery shows her in a state of disbelief by the fact that he looks exactly like Garrett; she becomes obsessed. The way she reacts after crashing Tom's art class when she cannot control her emotions is beautifully played out, as is the way their relationship develops.
There are private painting classes, a swim, lunch and a date before a kiss and everything that follows. 'I've spent my whole life looking for you,' Tom tells her; she says: 'I've always loved you.' There are deep an meaningful conversations about life, their previous spouses (Tom has been married before) but Nikki omits to mention the elephant in the room - the fact that he is a dead ringer for her dead husband. There's a credible relationship established between Bening and Jess Weixler, who plays her love-lorn daughter and special mention to Amy Brenneman, whose sympathetic, warm presence as Tom's ex-wife adds greatly to the proceedings.
Filmmaker Arie Posin injects shades of Hitchcock's Vertigo and many scenes are simply enjoyable because they showcase the delightful connection between Bening and Harris. Their conversations simply flow. There's a touch of melodrama in the lead up to the climactic scenes, when we have no idea how things are going to pan out. The bittersweet resolution satisfies all the criteria and we are left with complex thoughts about who, why and how we love.
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FACE OF LOVE, THE (M)
CAST: Annette Bening, Ed Harris, Robin Williams, Amy Brenneman, Jess Weixler, Linda Park
PRODUCER: Bonnie Curtis, Julie Lynn
DIRECTOR: Arie Posin
SCRIPT: Matthew McDuffie, Arie Posin
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Antonio Riestra
EDITOR: Matt Madox
MUSIC: Marcelo Zarvos
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jeannine Claudia Oppewall
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 12, 2014