The Face of Love
Director Arie Posin (The Chumscrubber) continues his foray into urban melancholia in The Face of Love, a dark romantic drama, starring Annette Bening, Ed Harris and Robin Williams. While on holiday in Mexico celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary, art collector Garret Mathis drowns suddenly, leaving his wife Nikki devastated. Five years on, Nikki attempts to rebuild her life, but remains consumed with grief and bereft of hope. A chance encounter with artist Tom, who bears more than an uncanny resemblance to Garret, leads her to orchestrate a friendship and they eventually become romantically involved.
While universal themes of love and death have become rather trite in Hollywood and the plot appears rather contrived, The Face of Love is rescued from becoming another run-of-the-mill, tear-jerking film due to the outstandingly nuanced performance by Bening and the credible support from Harris and Williams.
As Nikki’s romance with Tom develops, she consumes herself with moulding her oblivious lover into an illusion of her dead husband. Hypnotised by the fantasy she has created, Nikki descends further and further into denial and make-believe. Events take a sinister turn as she shuns the outside world and convinces herself of a new reality.
Posin employs a series of erratic camera shots throughout the film to mirror Nikki’s fragility and unbalanced state of mind. The director skillfully interweaves flashback footage with the present day events, unnerving the audience as to who the real Garret or Tom is. But it is Bening’s performance as the harrowed widow that promotes the plot from the absurd into the logical. She strikes the perfect balance between melancholia and delusion and allows the film to pose sobering questions about death and bereavement. Her descent from overwhelming grief into unrestrained infatuation is portrayed with delicacy and empathy and will resonate with those who have experienced the grieving process.
The Face of Love is a sensitive, tactful and sombre film, made all the more plausible by the wonderfully sympathetic lead performances.
The Face of Love is released nationwide on 12th December 2014.
Watch the trailer for The Face of Love here: