the talented mr mortensen

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I took a look at The Two Faces of January for Critic’s Notebook, a Patricia Highsmith adaptation which confirms that age is gifting Viggo Mortensen with the kind of screen presence unavailable in packets. His character though is off-the-shelf. Unfair to drag everything back to the ubiquitous Mr Ripley, but there are reasons why that character is open to screen interpretations as varied as the preening dandy tried on for size by John Malkovich in Ripley’s Game, or the collection of nervous tics answering to the name of Dennis Hopper in The American Friend, both of which feel positively electrified in comparison with January’s small-time scoundrels. Take the foetid humidity and age of anxiety out of Highsmith and you’re left with something much less interesting.

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