The Face Of Love – Review
Having made its debut at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Arie Posin’s independent romantic drama is never short on atmosphere or noble intention; skewing decidedly in the direction of a more seasoned audience, there’s a somewhat haunting and otherworldly feeling to this character-centric tale that warrants attention, but not necessarily a revisit.
Annette Benning takes centre stage as Nikki, a recent widow facing daily reminders of her lost love. Her world is soon turned upside down however when she encounters a local artist (the always reliable Ed Harris) who happens to be the spitting image of her departed husband. As the two begin a relationship, Nikki finds herself feeling whole once more, but is their relationship healthy? And more importantly, should she be ashamed of the stigma her new love could draw?
An admittedly gimmicky central concept is swiftly folded into very functional shape by a very heartfelt and sincere screenplay by Posin and Matthew McDuffie; whose collaboration allows both Benning and Harris to fully explore their dynamic to an almost admirable level of development. A very engaging and likeable onscreen couple, it’s in the scenes of their burgeoning relationship in which The Face Of Love works best; a thoughtful and tender exploration of love after loss.
It’s in the film’s later scenes however, in which the forced application of somewhat predictable – yet admittedly poignant – story beats begins to take over that Posin’s tale begins to unravel. Thankfully, the interesting visual palette and Benning and Harris’s performances – coupled with a very touching appearance by the late Robin Williams – just about manage to reign proceedings in and keep The Face Of Love an unapologetic and soulful one-off experience.
Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.
Annette Benning, Ed Harris, Robin Williams