With a few deft strokes of the brush I was hooked. Not much really. Just Annette Bening’s Nikki sitting by her pool sipping wine, flashes of memories taking over her emotions. Her husband drowned after 30 years of happiness together. She found Garrett’s dead body on the beach. She wakes up in the middle of the night and calls out his name. Five years later, although not as depressed as she was, Nikki still misses Garrett. One day she goes back to the Los Angeles museum she and Garrett loved to visit. It’s there that Nikki sees her husband’s double. Ed Harris plays both Garrett and Tom. Nikki start to follow him and finds out that he teaches painting at college. Having met him she then ask him to give him private lessons without telling him he’s a dead ringer for her late husband. Tom soon falls in love with her and that inspires him to start painting again. At every turn Bening’s emotionally understands Nikki’s obsessions and contradictions and that makes The face of love a must. And Ed Harris as the ghostly memories of Garrett, but also as Tom matches Bening’s talent. The face of love is unabashedly romantic and although it has suspense, it is not a thriller. You keep thinking ‘When is she going to tell him?’. Other characters might see Tom and realize what’s happening. Nikki’s friend and neighbour, Roger (Robin Williams), also lost his wife and has developed a crush on Nikki. There is also Garrett and Nikki’s daughter (Jess Weixler) who may drop by to see her mother. The scenes at the museum reminds us of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. There’s even a moment where Nikki buys Tom a grey suit, just as James Stewart bought one for Kim Novak in Vertigo. But director Arie Posin does not try to replicate Hitchcock’s style. Instead of settling with long-established notions in film directing, Posin always follow the pulses and emotions of his characters. Actors and director are feeding one another. A sparingly used minimalist Marcelo Zarvos score has just enough ostinato to recall Bernard Herrmann. And production designer Jeannine Oppewall’s attention to details makes this film even more compelling than it already is. The face of love is perfection. And it has a brilliant performance by the great Annette Bening.
The face of love