'The Two Faces of January' Could Be The Finest Patricia Highsmith Adaptation Yet
'The Two Faces of January' is another successful adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's work.
American-born but Europe-based, the novelist Patricia Highsmith wrote 22 novels and eight collections of short stories, most of which deal with characters who are badly compromised morally. So it's natural that her work has been widely adapted by filmmakers looking for more complex characters and storylines.
Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst in 'The Two Faces of January'
It's also hardly surprising that novelist Patricia Highsmith has long been associated with master filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, who gave her career a huge boost when he made a movie based on her first novel Strangers on a Train a year after it was first published in 1950. Her most famous character, the anti-hero Tom Ripley, appears in five novels and has been immortalised several times on film: Alain Delon in the classic Plein Soleil (1960), Dennis Hopper in The American Friend (1977), Matt Damon in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), John Malkovich in Ripley's Game (2002), Barry Pepper in Ripley Under Ground (2005).
Ripley essentially appears in a different guise - an American tour guide up to no good - in Highsmith's 1964 novel The Two Faces of January, which has just has been adapted into a film by Hossein Amini (Drive) starring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac.
And Highsmith's controversial novel The Price of Salt is currently being adapted into a feature film by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven), using the author's alternate title Carol. It stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Originally published in 1952, the book was considered shocking because it gives its lesbian lovers a happy ending. Although today's movie audiences probably won't bat an eyelash.