Faces in the Crowd (2011) – Review

3 Stars

Milla Jovovich headlines this taut thriller about a woman that looses the ability to recognize faces. After Anna (Milla Jovovich) happens upon a brutal murder in progress, the killer turns his blade on her and she suffers severe head trauma during the struggle. The brain damage leaves her with “face blindness”. As she begins to put her life back together and learns how to manage her disability, the killer continues to taunt her. Unfortunately Anna is unable to identify him, even when he’s right in front of her. Her inability to recognize even her loved ones leaves her alone, until she teams up with the detective on the case, whose face she has the strange ability to remember. Together they set out to find serial killer Tearjerk Jack who wants more than anything to be seen.

Writer and director Julien Magnat uses the ever changing faces in Anna’s world as a perfect way to build suspense and panic. They are also used to create isolation and confusion, especially in intimate moments. Jovovich does a great job here, she plays lost well, and we easily go along when she knuckles down to tackle the task of surviving in a faceless existence. Julian McMahon (Dr. Doom from Fantastic Four, Nip/Tuck) does a fine job as Detective Kerrest. The worst thing in here is the sex scene between the two which comes off as awkward.

To be honest about the rest of the cast, it’s hard to keep track of everybody since they use different actors for the changing faces, for instance Anna’s boyfriend Bryce is technically played by at least twelve actors. This is all used to create twists and turns which make it difficult to pin the murderer, but not impossible. While you may think you know who the killer is, the film smartly plays on the ability that identities are shifting, so in the back of your mind you’re constantly wondering if you could be wrong. The final showdown is a tad weak, but completely in line with the genre. It’s the final shot with the voice over that feels tacked on and out of place; a last ploy at a happy ending to a movie that always found happiness ending in disaster.

The cinematography is on par with the best of television, and no wonder since DP Rene Ohashi has worked on such high brow shows as Kidnapped, Eleventh Hour and Nikita. Dark and shadowy lit scenes help take the narrative to the next level. While suspenseful, this thriller is far from a horror film, the murders are fairly tame when contrasted with current mainstream trends. This is made TV safe, but still requires a level of maturity to fully understand and enjoy. Check it out if you like dark mysteries or whodunits.

Director: Julien Magnat
Stars: Milla Jovovich, Julian McMahon

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