The Face of Love

Face of love

This American romantic drama is about a grieving widow, Nikki (Annette Bening), who was married to a successful architect, Garrett (Ed Harris), writes Peter W. Sheehan.

After Garrett's sudden death, she meets a man called Tom who looks exactly like him. Her 30-year, happy marriage to Garrett ended tragically when Garrett was drowned while they were holidaying together in Mexico, and she is affected deeply by her memory of him.

After her husband's death, Nikki drifts into loneliness, that is alleviated occasionally by the spontaneity of her caring relationship to her daughter, Summer (Jessie Weixler).

Five years later, Nikki visits the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and is shocked to come face-to-face withTom (played again by Ed Harris), who looks exactly like Garrett. Whenever she sees and talks with Tom, she keeps returning in her mind to her past life with her husband. Desperate but intrigued, she follows Tom to the Liberal Arts College where he works and teaches classes in painting. Nikki is disturbed enough to stalk Tom, and she wants to enrol in his Art class in order to get to know him better.

Under the emotional strain of what she is doing, Nikki breaks down in front of Tom, and Tom finds himself attracted to her and wants to help her. Her next- door neighbour, Roger (Robin Williams), is also attracted to Nikki, and watches the drama that is unfolding. Tom's ex-wife, Annie (Amy Brenneman) wants Tom to find another person to love, so as to stop him growing into himself.

The film as a whole, is about a romance that provides a considerable challenge for subtle acting. Nikki finds herself attracted to a person who looks like Garrett, and she is uncertain as to whether her feelings for him are genuine, or whether they simply reflect what she is feeling for her dead husband. Annette Bening captures vividly the subtlety of that conflict, and Ed Harris plays the role of a person on whom her feelings are projected. The film nicely reflects the complexity of human relationships. For Nikki, her loss and grief mingle interchangeably with sexual attraction and the dawning awareness of her being needed by someone else. Bening gives us a luminous portrait of affection, affliction, conflict, and sorrow.

This is an absorbing movie. The romantic attachment of the two main characters is engagingly vital, and the film solidly entertains.

- Peter W Sheehan is associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.

The Face of Love, starring: Annette Bening, Ed Harris, Robin Williams, Jessie Weixler, and Amy Brenneman. Directed by Arie Posin. Rated M (Mature themes). 92 min.

Rialto Films. Released June 12th., 2014.

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