The late suspense novelist Patricia Highsmith was celebrated for two great achievements: Creating terrifying tales that took readers into the minds of amoral protagonists, and for crafting wonderfully evocative descriptions of exotic settings as the backdrops for the author’s trademark cat-and-mouse plots.
Her 1964 book, The Two Faces of January, was perhaps the most perfect example of both of these strengths. Set in Athens and across the Greek isles, January tells of a young American traveller who inserts himself into the intrigues of a husband and wife team of con artists, setting off a claustrophobic triangle of romantic and criminal obsession.
As taut as the plot is, however, what most readers take away from the book is the haunting and beautifully evocative portrait of Americans abroad during the height of mid-century affluence. The book reads like a great travel guide to a lost era.
Though other Highsmith books have been turned into movies — including her 1950 classic Strangers on a Train — the beloved Two Faces of January has never been adapted as an English-language film. That will change next month, with the release of director Hossein Amini’s awaited version.
Judging by the scene above – available exclusively here at Yahoo Movies – the haunting, languid atmosphere of the book has been perfectly captured. That’s due in no small part to some sharp casting: Oscar Issac plays the traveler, while Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst star as the conniving couple. We’ll see how they fare in this glossy, twisty thriller on September 26, when The Two Faces of January opens nationwide. It is also available today on VOD and iTunes.