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STUDIO MPI HOME VIDEO
RUNNING TIME 91 Minutes
- Behind the Scenes Featurette
- Deleted Scenes
Ed Harris competes with a dead version of Ed Harris for Annette Bening.
Annette Bening, Ed Harris, Robin Williams, and Ed Harris
Five years ago, Nikki (Annette Bening) lost her husband Garrett (Ed Harris). She hasn’t been able to move on since. When Nikki visits the LACMA, she finds Tom (Ed Harris), who looks exactly like Garrett. She tracks him down and begins seeing him. Soon, the identities of the two men intermingle, which forces her to make life altering decisions.
I knew nothing about this movie when I selected to review it. Really. I have never gone more blind into a movie before reviewing it. I only found out details when I received the DVD in the mail. It had Annette Bening, Ed Harris, and Robin Williams? Neat. This might be a quaint, small drama with some great performances. I hope it’s a sleeper!
How dare I have expectations for this film.
The Face of Love is a self important bore that squanders a great concept. What would happen if you met the doppelganger of a lost love? That’s a great conceit that could provide insight into the nature of love, emotion, and humanity. It’s a big question that is more than enough for the backbone of a film.
Nope, that’s just a thing that happens. It’s just a colossal coincidence that never goes addressed.
Instead, the movie plays it straight. Bening’s Nikki is obsessed with her dead husband. Five years after, she has nothing in her life. Sure, she makes a living staging homes to be sold (the whitest white person profession out there, I’m sure). Other than that, every single minute of her screen time has her pine for her dead husband.
It’s hard to let some things go but, after five years, Nikki is still consumed with Garrett. The film takes pains to make sure that we know Nikki is sane, too. She knows finding someone who looks like her dead husband is ludicrous. However, if she believes that this circumstance is crazy, that would suggest she’s got a head on her shoulders. That would mean that she would have tried to move on. That would have made her character so much more actualized.
Her character exists so she can be obsessed with her dead husband. She has no goals for herself. It’s infuriating, made all the more so when the script keeps dictating these arbitrary moments of conflict. Her character is not insane, yet the script continues to have her mix up Tom and Garrett in very obvious ways. It artificially ratchets up the tension and makes for an uncomfortable character progression.
Face of Love believes any conflict makes something interesting, which is simply not the case. Writer/director Arie Posin is more interested in melodrama with flecks of the fantastic. I’m assuming Posin has never seen anyone truly grieve for a lost spouse. If he has, he certainly missed the points, instead suggesting all widowers are co-dependent sociopaths.
Seriously! Her widower neighbor Roger (Robin Williams) is a jealous Baxter. When Nikki tells Roger that she’s found someone, he lashes out. Roger then spends the rest of the film in the Baxter position, trying to get any relationship with Nikki.
The only person that comes out unscathed is Ed Harris, who provides warmth and reality to the film. Harris comes off as a transplant from a better film about widowers trying to find their way again. Tom is an art teacher that wants to be loved, so he gets caught up in Nikki’s unfounded adoration. When the world is going insane around him, Tom is a beacon of calm.
He also never succumbs to the melodrama. There’s one scene where Nikki’s daughter goes absolutely ballistic after seeing Tom. It’s uncomfortable and inhuman in a film with so much inhuman emotion. Instead of becoming accusatory or inhuman as well, Tom simply excuses himself. He reacts rationally to an irrational situation.
It shouldn’t feel refreshing, but it does. That’s not good. So much of that emotional reality is missing from this film and it’s outrageously irritating. Ed Harris is a delight, which isn’t a surprise. It’s a showcase for his talents, as everyone else is given horrendous material to work with.
Don’t watch this film. I wanted to punch my television several times, but I didn’t want to give this movie the satisfaction of me behaving in tandem with its reality.
Terrible special features go along with this terrible, horrible film. The item with the most meat in it is the “Behind the Scenes” featurette. There, you can very visibly see Annette Bening and Robin Williams try to say anything good about the project. I’ve never heard an actress be more political about the words she’s choosing. The director comes off as a milquetoast man, which is fine, as there is nothing wrong with being middle of the road as a person. Just make sure you deliver more than a middle of the road movie.
You also get some deleted scenes, which actually offer some very viable background for the movie, and a trailer. Blergh.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars