DVD The Face of Love

DVD The Face of Love
DVD The Face of Love
Run time: 92 min
Rating: 6.1
Genres: Drama | Romance
Director: Arie Posin
Writers: Matthew McDuffie, Arie Posin
Stars: Annette Bening, Ed Harris, Robin Williams
A widow falls for a guy who bears a striking resemblance to her late husband.
Country: USA
Release Date: 25 October 2013 (Spain)
Box Office
Budget: $4,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $24,660 (USA) (7 March 2014)
Gross: $309,427 (USA) (11 April 2014)


  1. It's fitting that I saw this film and reviewed it today, as, coincidentally, it's the star's birthday today—so a happy birthday to Annette Bening.

    While I really loved this film, it's one that is not for everyone. In addition, it was in and out of theaters so quickly that I really doubt that many folks got to see this one. It's a shame, as I really, really admire this film and more folks should see it.

    The reason I say that the film is not for everyone isn't because it's bad—it's marvelous. However, if you are a widow or widower, it might be a bit tough watching the film. Additionally, if you simply refuse to watch a sad film or are already depressed, this one isn't for you. It doesn't come with the usual happy Hollywood ending—something I appreciate but which will no doubt disappoint some viewers.

    Bening plays Nikki—a woman who is still grieving over the death of her beloved husband five years earlier. She seems stuck and her life isn't especially fulfilling. However, when she one day happens to see a man in a gallery who looks exactly like her late husband (Ed Harris), she becomes obsessed. She returns to the gallery again and again and again— hoping to see the guy. Eventually, he does return and she stalks him and discovers that he's a teacher at a local college. She then shows up at him art class and proceeds to make a fool of herself. However, he's intrigued and when they see each other again, they begin talking and a romance develops. However, Nikki is an emotionally disturbed woman. No, she isn't crazy—but she is unable and simply not ready to have a healthy relationship with Tom. Instead of explaining to him that he is a double for the dead man, Nikki tells him nothing. In fact, she goes so far as to hide him from her friends and family because she wants nothing to stop her from symbolically reclaiming her dead husband in the form of Tom. Heck, at times, she even calls him by her dead husband's name!

    If Hollywood types had done the film, it clearly would have ended up very differently. This is NOT a film where everything is wrapped up neatly or makes the viewer feel thrilled for the lovers. No. Instead it's a film about being stuck—and how, ultimately, that can really keep you from living your life to the fullest. It's a wonderful lesson for us all—but it's also a very painful lesson. Be sure to have some Kleenex handy and don't be surprised if the film leaves you emotionally drained. However, it's a GOOD sort of feeling and you can't help but admire the folks who made the film—even if it's not a huge money-maker. As for the actors, Bening and Harris are simply great—very believable and easy to connect with in the film. I also appreciate how middle aged actresses and actors star in this one. Too often filmmakers seem to present the world as only for the young. Additionally, I was surprised at Robin Williams in this one. His role was surprisingly small and unlike what you'd normally expect to see from him—and I also appreciate that. Finally, the director and co-writer Ari Posin deserves so much of the credit for this film. Despite very little experience in the industry (or perhaps because of it), he manages to create a wonderful story without the usual clichés. Draining but wonderful. Well worth seeing. And, if you do see it, pay close attention to the music—it's really, really fitting and creates a strongly evocative mood.

  2. Saw the US premiere of this movie at the Mill Valley Film Festival. The director, Arie Posen, described the inspiration for this film. His mother thought that she saw her late husband walking across the street one day. Of course, it could not have been him, but it was a powerful experience for her. I think many of us have this fantasy of being with a loved one again. It explored the fine line between extreme grief and mental illness. The movie is very well cast, with Annette Bening and Ed Harris delivering strong and believable performances – and chemistry! There were many suspenseful moments where the audience gasped – because we knew what was going on, but the other characters in the movie did not. Throughout the entire movie I was wondering how this could possibly end, but the film does manage to find a conclusion – it does not leave the viewer to write the ending, like so many movies these days.

  3. When does deep, abiding love tip over into unhealthy, tragic obsession? The answer, apparently, is all the time, in oddly affecting romantic drama The Face Of Love. Buoyed by a strong cast, this tale of a woman falling for her dead husband's doppelganger manages to gloss over some of its more troubling implications for quite a while. But, ultimately, writer-director Arie Posin fails to disguise the fact that an interesting premise does not a great film make.

    Nikki (Annette Bening) is devastated by the sudden death of her beloved husband Garret (Ed Harris). Without him, she drifts through a haze of loss and grief, unable to walk through her house or visit the museum without being reminded of him. After five years as a widow, she meets, quite by chance, Tom (also played by Harris), a man who's the spitting image of her deceased husband. She tracks him down at a liberal arts college where he teaches, and the two strike up a romance: one that never quite manages to free itself from the troubling spectre of Nikki's still-burning love for Garret.

    Posin reportedly sat down to co-write his script after his mother gave him an idea for the story: she had spotted someone in the crowd who looked eerily like her dearly departed husband. There's certainly a host of interesting ideas revolving around this premise. When does love turn into obsession? When does it keep the ones left alive from moving on? To what lengths can love drive a person? Indeed, The Face Of Love occasionally hits upon moments of quite startling insight, particularly when Nikki walks through her beautiful, empty house like someone already dead.

    But the film also gets too caught up in its own premise. The relationship between Nikki and Tom unfolds in a realistic but also deeply creepy way: she frequently refers to him as Garret, and clearly slips into the delusion that her husband is alive far more frequently than she reminds herself that she's with an entirely different man with his own identity and feelings. That's not the bad part; in fact, it's quite intriguing and tragic in its unsettling fashion.

    What works less well is the way in which it all ends. The inevitable confrontation between Nikki and Tom is much delayed – she hides a family photograph with Garret, and for some reason he googles Nikki but never thinks to google Garret – and, when it finally takes place, is deeply anti-climactic and a bit silly. Instead of dealing with the very real ramifications of Nikki's actions (she takes Tom to the scene of Garret's demise to "make new memories!"), the film chooses to skip a year ahead, picking up the story in a ham-fisted way that gives no one any real emotional closure – not Tom, not Nikki, and certainly not the audience.

    What joy there is to be had in this film comes from its astounding and very committed cast. Bening expresses more hope and despair in her face and eyes than the script sometimes allows her; she's the reason Nikki comes off as sympathetic and heartbroken rather than crazed and callous. Harris' part is pretty thankless, but he imbues Tom with a sad hopefulness: the way he proclaims that his heart soars because of the way Nikki looks at him will likely break yours. (Robin Williams, by the way, pops up as a neighbour who's long held a torch for Nikki, but isn't given very much to do.)

    In some moments, The Face Of Love makes a very strong case for its existence. Within Nikki's heartbreak, one can find shades of dangerous obsession and tragic delusion. Bening alone maps Nikki's desolation in a wonderfully sensitive way. But, because of the deeply strange manner in which the film chooses to resolve Nikki's relationship with Tom, it all rings too hollow in the end. This is not, as it turns out, The Face Of Love, but more The Farce of it.

  4. This is my reaction to the film. There will be spoilers so read this after you've seen the film. It's not to be read by anyone wondering whether or not to go see the film because it will ruin the ending for you and even the middle. Nikki follows Tom because she is struck by how much he looks like her late husband. The likeness is exact, actually. What happens is that she gradually gets involved with Tom but doesn't tell him why she's so smitten. He basks in her love gaze and returns the affection. I had a lot of trouble watching her conceal the true reason for her attraction to him. It was dishonest and set a poor precedent for any future the relationship might have. Since his looks are exactly like her husbands he has a right to know this so he can decide if her feelings for him can ever change and be about him, Tom — not him the Garrett look-alike (if that was his name). So my stomach churned more with each dishonest date they had and with each evasive act she committed with her neighbor and daughter. Why? My goal was for her to find another relationship and she was ruining it. When he did discover the truth he was going to be very angry and never trust her. She had to be the one to tell him how things really were. But she didn't. She didn't because, I figured out, she didn't want another relationship. She wasn't over the old one. In fact, she wanted to keep on living the old one. She wanted to use Tom to fantasize that the old one wasn't over. Perhaps it never needed to end after all. Logic would have told her she couldn't play that game forever but she was quite drastically short on logic. One example of this was when her daughter showed up while Tom was upstairs in the bedroom. To prevent a scene she should have said, "Daughter, this new man looks exactly like Garrett. That's weird but you should get ready for it because he's coming down. It's partly why I am attracted to him." Instead she tells her daughter stuff that isn't useful because there's no groundwork. For, "Please understand, I really need him," to work you have to first know what the odd part is (that he looks like Dad) and Nikki leaves that out. So the daughter freaks.

    So it's not a movie about a woman getting on with her life. It's a movie about a woman who found a way to stay stuck and not get on with her life. I found that very hard to watch. And the ending didn't make it any better. In fact I wanted to see a couple of other paintings by Tom, not just the one of her in the pool. Was that all he did of her? He had a year after their breakup.

    I don't know what to make of the film. I do know I lived part of my life that way — not getting on with my life but in my case it was my unhappy childhood I couldn't or wouldn't get over. And I was mostly powerless even with therapy, to move on. It is a sad kind of craziness. It's a waste of a life to be stuck but I don't know that everyone has the same chance of changing that . . . or what happens that allows them to move on. For me it was a change of therapists and approaching old age. I don't know if Nikki ever did move on. We don't get to see that part. As we watch her taking in that painting at the art show we see her with a chance to get to know Tom for himself and of course, it's too late. So now she has another loss to deal with.

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