Hossein Amini Delivers an Old-Fashioned Suspense Thriller with 'The Two Faces of January'

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Screenwriter Hossein Amini (Snow White and the Huntsman, The Wings of the Dove, Drive) tries his hand at directing with his adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel The Two Faces of January. The suspense movie tells the story of three criminals who are constantly trying to get the upper hand on one another.

My attraction to the property was really these three characters and how they devolved,” Amini tells Film Journal International. “One moment you’re rooting for one character, then your allegiance shifts very quickly to another. That made them very human to me, and that’s one of the things I love about Highsmith’s writing. She sort of looks for the criminal in all of us and, at the same time, finds the human in our criminals.”

Taking on the director’s chair wasn’t such a leap for Amini who claims that he’s “always, when I’m writing, kind of directing it in my head. Here, I storyboarded the whole thing—even the intimate dialogue scenes. I directed it once in my head, once storyboarding, then I did the real directing when everything changed, but I at least felt confident going in.”

And bibliophiles who are a stickler for faithful book adaptations might want to look elsewhere than at Amini’s work, who claims, “My adaptations aren’t about transposing a book into a screenplay…I’m interested in delivering my experience of reading the book more than just delivering the book to the screen. That whole experience, which I think every reader has—feeling incredibly moved or suddenly reading really quickly because they want to know what happens next—is more important in the adaptation than necessarily putting down everything.”

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