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Movie review: 'The Face of Love', more of a facepalm

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The Face of Love

Rating:
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The Face of Love (opening today) aspires to be a serious romance embedded in a compelling mystery. It has some good ingredients to work with, featuring the usually stellar Annette Bening and Ed Harris in the lead roles. But working with one of the worst scripts in recent memory, even these two veteran stars can't save this film from feeling more like a harsh, stinging slap to the face.

Bening plays Nikki, a depressed widow who we know is depressed because she is drinking wine (gasp!) alone. Her husband is gone and she is haunted by his memory. She has a grown daughter who she still clings to and an affectionate neighbor (Robin Williams) who is a widow himself.

One day in the park, Nikki sees a man and he bears more than a striking resemblance to her late husband. She returns the next day and begins stalking the man to get a closer look. She does, and not only does he look similar, he in fact looks identical. Ed Harris plays both the late husband (in flashbacks) and the new man of Nikki's affection. She falls for the new man, and he falls for her.

Each line delivered in this film between any combination of its characters lands with a resounding thud. There is much stating and over-stating of the obvious and phrasing of words in unnatural ways. The dialogue is written to give us clear exposition and character background instead of flowing naturally as if these were real people we are watching.

But the horrible dialogue is the least of the film's worries...and that's saying a lot. The preposterous plot has characters reacting to the situation in laughable ways, brushing over the fact that the entire central story is just a manipulative, implausible sham. You await to see the film's end hoping that there is some sci-fi twist or explanation as to how two identical humans could exist in the same town and in such close proximity, appearing at the perfect time and in the perfect place. No such pay-off is delivered, but no worries...you will hardly care either way the longer this dreck continues to churn.

You can sort of see why the premise attracted such respectable actors, because had this material been handled in a smarter way, there were some interesting facets to have been explored. But just chalk this up as horrible missteps for Bening, Harris, Williams and even director Arie Posin. Long careers often feature duds of varying magnitude, even though this one falls in the catastrophic category.

Not much more can be said about The Face of Love...it's one of the worst films you'll see this year, memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Run Time: 1 hours, 32 minutes, Rated PG-13

Starring : Annette Bening, Ed Harris, Robin Williams

Co-Written & Directed by Arie Posin (The Chumscrubber)

Opens locally on Friday, April 11, 2014 (check for show times).

Be sure to watch Tom Santilli on TV! Check your local listings for “Movie Show Plus” for Tom’s weekly movie review segment, airing at 10:30 p.m. EST every Sunday, on MYTV20 in Detroit.

How to read Tom Santilli's "Star Ratings:"

  • 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
  • 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
  • 3 Stars: The movie was just OK, leaves a lot to be desired
  • 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
  • 1 Star: Awful, sloppy, a total waste of time
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