Words by ZALEHAH TURNER
The Face of Love, directed by Arie Posin, is a psychological drama exploring grieving widow Nikki Longstrom’s (Annette Bening) romantic obsession with Tom (Ed Harris). He is ‘an almost perfect double’ of her late husband Garrett, also played by Harris, in whom she sees the chance to relive her married life.
Every time Nikki looks at Tom, she sees Garrett. She has no need to fall in love with him for, as she herself says, she has always been in love with him. She finds herself recreating their life together in a fantasy in which he never died. Tom, on the hand, finds himself mesmerised by the look of love and absolute devotion he finds on her face, something he has never experienced, not even in the life he shared with his now ex-wife, Ann (Amy Brenneman).
From the direct reference to Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thriller Vertigo early in the film, to the theme of an obsession with a lookalike replacement for a loved one who has died in tragic circumstances, coupled with the overwhelming desire to relive the tragic moment in the hope of a better outcome, it is obvious that writer/director Arie Posin was heavily influenced by the famous Hitchcock film. However, The Face of Love lacks the power inherent in such a tale of loss, obsession and deception. Despite occasional attempts to draw the audience into Nikki’s spell, and the recurring themes of water and images of reflection, The Face of Love fails to realise the psychological potential in what could have been an emotionally painful story.
The Face of Love screens at Hoyts from June 12.