The Face of Love
by Hope Madden
We owe a lot to alcohol. Just one example of the gifts booze gives graces our multiplexes and independent cinemas weekly, because nearly every movie theater now contains a bar. This means that audiences who would not spend money on traditional concessions – that is, an older crowd – are more apt to spend their leisure time at the movies. This, in turn, creates more demand for grown up fare onscreen. Not just more character driven or dramatic storytelling, either. Older crowds want to see stories that relate to them, performed by grown-ups, and the financial success of films like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel only guarantees the trend will continue.
This isn’t always a good thing. For every Amour there’s a Grudge Match, but at least we get to see an extension on the careers of really talented actors, like Annette Bening and Ed Harris, portraying star-crossed lovers in The Face of Love.
Bening plays Nikki, five years widowed from her beloved husband Garrett (Harris). Her needy, also-widowed neighbor Roger (Robin Williams) hopes to woo her, but she only has eyes for Garrett. Luckily enough, she runs into his doppelganger at an art gallery.
Yes, Garrett’s exact duplicate also lives in LA, visits the same museum, is single and lonely, and falls for Nikki.
The love of your life dies and you meet an exact replica. What do you do?
Is it a universal question or a ridiculous contrivance?
The latter, it turns out, but thanks to the sheer force of talent both Harris and Bening bring to the project, it is hard to turn away.
Harris breaks your heart as the good guy who falls for this mysterious new lady in his life. He’s lucky, though, because his character – a nice guy in for a heartache – is a little easier to play.
Bening’s drawn the shorter straw, but she handles the entire task quite well regardless of the lacking character development on the page. Her uneasy joy, repressed emotion, and fragile calm all help to make the character and her actions feel almost real.
What’s utterly and irredeemably unreal is the plot, co-written by director Arie Posin, along with Matthew McDuffie. But if you drink enough while you’re at the theater, you’ll hardly notice.