Arie Posin’s romantic drama tips its hand when we see that protagonist Nikki (Annette Bening), a widowed interior decorator, has chosen posters for Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo for the house she’s currently sprucing up. This is moments before she first sees Tom (Ed Harris), a dead ringer for Nikki’s late husband, Garrett (also Harris).
The Face of Love is also a few color gels away from being this decade’s remake of Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows, as Nikki embarks on a relationship with Tom that doesn’t defy contemporary taboos about age or ethnicity but instead is borderline necrophilic, while she lies to Tom about her past and tries to hide him from her adult daughter, Summer (Jess Weixler), and Nikki’s lovesick, perpetually friend-zoned neighbor, Roger (Robin Williams).
Bening and Harris have excellent chemistry, and the deeply objectified Tom gets an interior life, particularly in his touching relationship with his own, still-alive former spouse (Amy Brenneman).
Wisely shrugging off the question of how Garrett and Tom can be identical, The Face of Love becomes a study of a woman gradually losing her grip on reality, thanks to the universe playing a seriously dirty trick on her.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 5, 2014