Review: The Face of Love

The premise might sound a little outlandish, but Arie Posin's surprisingly delicate melodrama The Face of Love is a late cinematic highlight of 2014. Annette Bening, Ed Harris and the late Robin Williams star in this tale of love, loss, and loneliness.

After suddenly losing the love of her life, a widow (Bening) falls for a man (Harris) who is an exact doppelgänger of her late husband. However, this initially-perfect love becomes one of confusion and hurt as family and friends struggle to accept the bizarre likeness.

Matthew McDuffie and Posin's screnplay is likely to strike immediate comparisons with features like Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo and Brian De Palma's Obsession - tales that capture the stirring combination of grief, loneliness and obsession. The Face of Love is layered with an equal amount of emotionally-charged melodrama to these features - which thanks to an outstandingly well-pitched lead turn from Bening is always affecting. Posin features the odd over-the-top moment in the mix to ensure the pace remains relatively quick throughout, such as a sequence which sees the frantic widow in a high-speed pursuit after someone she believes is her departed husband.

It is the quieter moments where The Face of Love shines, however, with Posin's direction always quietly affecting. Sun-stroked cinematography, glamorous sets, and a whimsical score ensure that this is an elegant, light viewing, yet one that lingers within your thoughts well after its conclusion.This is a film that showcases themes that provoke questions about our own lives and what oneself would do if put in such a bizarre scenario.

Much of the impact comes from the subtle brilliance of Bening's leading turn - the actress manages to quietly captivate as a woman finding a superficial replacement to fill the void of melancholy that one suffers after losing a loved one.  A rich chemistry with Harris adds a further layer to the proceedings - posing questions about the links between obsession, grief and love. Praise must also go to a gorgeous dramatic supporting turn from Robin Williams, providing a further heartfelt quality to The Face of Love as a fellow widow with misplaced romantic feelings.

The Face of Love is subdued and delicate, but its stirring themes manage to hit home thanks to rich and endearing performances from Bening, Harris & Williams, and Posin's elegant direction.

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