The Face of Love
Directed by Arie Posin
Released March 7, 2014
In movies, characters rarely have just one chance at true love. It’s almost impossible to find a film that features a protagonist whose partner has passed away and who manages to mope around for its entire duration without successfully finding someone with whom to share his or her life, if even for a brief time. In “The Face of Love,” widow Nikki has an explicit opportunity most do not, which is to meet a man who looks exactly like her late husband, enabling her to recreate memories and fall in love all over again with a man with the same face.
In her first leading role since her Oscar-nominated turn in 2010’s “The Kids Are All Right,” Annette Bening stars as Nikki, who is introduced in a split scene which flashes between jovial moments from her marriage and shots of her sitting alone and miserable in her home after her husband’s passing. That husband, Garrett, is played in flashbacks by Ed Harris, who also portrays an art teacher named Tom who Nikki happens to see and then pursues because of his striking resemblance to Garrett. Robin Williams plays Nikki’s neighbor Roger, who is also mourning the loss of his lifelong partner.
Each of these actors are four-time Oscar nominees, and about fifteen years ago, they were at the height of their film careers. Williams won a Best Supporting Actor trophy for “Good Will Hunting,” Harris was a nominee for his omniscient turn in “The Truman Show,” and Bening starred in Best Picture winner “American Beauty.” Understandably, much time has passed since that point, but that shouldn’t affect their talent, merely their choice of roles. Unfortunately, none of them add much enthusiasm or magic to their parts here, and it’s a shame to see such skilled performers unable to enliven an otherwise rather simplistic story.
Watching Nikki get to know Tom while keeping from him the very crucial fact that she feels like she is with her husband every time they are together because of his appearance has two equal effects: sentimental romance and a sense of dread, since it is inevitable that he will discover that fact. There are moments of bliss and joy in “The Face of Love,” where all does seem destined to work out well. It’s hardly a romantic classic, but this mediocre drama might appeal to those who find the concept of a second chance at love endearing.