The Face of Love is a great little film that has slipped under the radar, despite its impressive cast (Annette Bening, Ed Harris and Robin Williams in one of his final performances) and compelling storyline. Movies In Focus loves to champion little movies like this, helping them to reach an audience that might otherwise miss it. Bening plays Nikki, a widower who has never recovered from the death of her husband (Ed Harris), however she gets a second win when she meets Tom (also played by Harris), an artist who is a dead-ringer for her husband.
Writer-director Arie Posin plays with the romantic drama genre here, picking elements from other genres and having them pass through without them impacting on the storytelling. Posin’s love story riffs on many of the themes of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, adding an additional layer to the subtitle supernatural hints that Posin has woven into the film. The film could have gone for a big reveal or finish for the ending, but like the rest of the film, it’s subtle and low key. The central ‘what-if’ premise is a little far-fetched, but it’s given enough honesty to help it play-out in a successful fashion.
The Face Of Love is a great little acting showcase for Bening Harris and Robin Williams. Bening shoulders the bulk of the screen time, touching on a range of emotions throughout the film. There’s a fine line to be walked as her character goes from grieving widower, to going over the edge to insanity. The actress manages to achieve this most of the time, although she comes close to becoming a touch too shrill in the more emotional moments. Ed Harris adds a soothing masculinity to Bening, once again showing that he’s a great leading man and a character actor. The late Robin Williams gives quiet support as Bening’s neighbour – it’s not a showy role, but Williams brings a homeliness to his character that gives a warmth to Posin’s film.
Well acted, written and shot, The Face of Love is a strong character focused romantic drama. It’s a low-key piece that works as in intriguing cinematic endeavour that doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is – a romantic drama with a twist.