Review: The Face of Love
Not unlike its main heroine, The Face of Love is full of hope and uncertainty – but only on the surface, clearly.
That is to say, Nikki certainly has a type.
Arie Posin’s quaint romantic doppelganger drama tips its toe in the proverbial water, but doesn’t want to jump in. One of the lookalikes in however is all too happy to do so, taking a dip in the opening scene whilst drunk, stoned, and on vacation.
It’s a fatal one, as Gareth (Ed Harris), while celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary with his wife Nikki (Annette Bening) drowns at night in Mexico. Nikki finds him on the beach, and slowly begins a grieving process that never seems to end.
Five years later and she sees Gareth at an art gallery, only he’s not Gareth, he’s Tom. Nikki follows, engages, charms, and embarks down a strange path that at times is fascinating but too cautious. Nikki is all sorts of emotions – excited, nostalgic, melancholic, confused – and rightly so, but she steadily proceeds to have Tom fill in the role of her deceased husband, while trying to keep him a secret from her nosy neighbor (Robin Williams) and daughter.
She tells Tom her husband has left, and he has no idea what Gareth looks like. You root for her to find love, but when she starts lying and shunning people, especially the lovely Williams in a great and restrained supporting role, you start to turn.
While the acting keeps the film afloat (sorry), the meaning simply isn’t potent enough. Nikki astounds, comically and dramatically, but the film only touches on some dark moments that should be far more intense and thought provoking. There are plenty of discussions that could be had, but all the opportunities are passed by. I’m never one to encourage films to be longer, but at 92 minutes, there should be some talk about what it means to be in love – it can’t all be denial.
While there are many moments to change course, we’re taken down the safest, surest route – an unfortunately very familiar one. After a death in the opening scene, it’s all rom-com ground that’s been trod before.