Wednesday 2 November 2011



I'm always in favour of anything that's described as gialloesque. Which is a great shame as this thriller simply doesn't live up to it: rather than echoing the great Argento and Bava movies, which automatically spring to mind whenever the word "giallo" is used, the film that it most resembles is Michael Apted's Blink - not a staggeringly great film to start with. Sadly, Julien Magnat's Faces In The Crowd is pretty bland, unexciting stuff, and features a genuinely laughable plot contrivance two thirds of the way through that makes absolutely no sense.

Kindergarten teacher Milla Jovovich chances upon a serial killer (dubbed "Tearjerk Jack" because he apparently weeps over his victims), but in the ensuing chase she falls and cracks her head. Recovering, she discovers she has a condition called prosopagnosia, or "face blindness": she can no longer recognise people facially. If someone walks out of the room and walks back in, she can no longer tell if it's the same person. Cop on the case Julian McMahon keeps an eye on her, as her boyfriend can't cope with her condition, but the killer is still out there: does he know that she couldn't identify him?

It's certainly interesting in places as Jovovich doesn't even recognise herself in a mirror, and her friends appear to be different people (her boyfriend is played by twelve actors in various scenes, and even her new therapist is only sometimes played by Marianne Faithfull). Which is fine, especially as it really needed to go stylistically overboard rather than being restrained, as the film has a crunching plot development that hinges on a leading character shaving his beard off for absolutely no reason other than the demand of the plot: worse, in a film about a woman who has trouble with faces, it makes no sense whatsoever for him to remove his one distinguishing feature. Nor does it really matter who the killer is, and it should matter, but it feels like they've plumped for that guy as a random plot twist.

Like rather too many movies, Faces In The Crowd is thoroughly unremarkable. It's not that it's a bad film, it's just not a particularly good one. To have actually done a full-blown giallo would have made the odd plotting more bearable, but it doesn't work in a "proper" film, and Faces In The Crowd just doesn't go nearly mad enough to justify it. Which is a pity.



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