The Face Of Love (2013)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB

USA, 2013Mockingbird Pictures.  Screenplay by , Arie PosinCinematography by Produced by Music by Production Design by Costume Design by Film Editing by .  

A romantic drama with so many miscalculated contrivances, it will make the worst Nicholas Sparks adaptations seem like 12 Years A Slave.  The wonderful Annette Bening and the usually reliable (if rarely likeable) Ed Harris are undone by a god-awful script and hackneyed direction.  She plays a widow who lost her husband (Harris) to a drowning five years ago and is still moping around her perfect kitchen in a state of melancholy depression.  When she spots a man (also Harris) at a museum who is a dead ringer for her lost beloved, she stalks him like a mad woman before entering his life and making him fall in love with her.  Is she in love with him too, or is he just a replacement for the man she lost?  At times it seems like she can’t even tell who it is she is dealing with, and there is an unsettling level of psychosis that Bening’s character displays (and which this fierce actress is never afraid to tap into) that the film wants us to ignore in favour of gooey sentimentality.  Robin Williams is a ham-fisted embarrassment as the next-door neighbor, and fellow widower, whose resentment over Bening (upon whom he has always had a crush) finding a new man would be the first sign of a serial killer in any other situation.  It does not have the audacity to go towards the near-metaphysical passions of Birth or P.S., nor does it manage the kind of psychological exploration of the first-rate Under The Sand which it resembles so much, likely because director Arie Posin seems never to have met an actual human being before trying to write about them.  Pedestrian dialogue is badly performed ( guesses that Harris has met a woman and he genuinely asks “How did you know?” without the slightest irony) and scenes of confrontation are awkwardly directed (Bening’s daughter meeting Harris is something out of a horror movie).  Avoid at all costs, it’s the pits.

Toronto International Film Festival:  2013

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