Faces in the Crowd hardly breaks new ground in the genre, but it has a few things going for it Milla Jovovich turns in a good performance, the mystery aspects are at least compelling and what writer/director Magnat does by putting the audience in the main character’s mindset is unique and effective.
Millennium | R – 102 min. – $29.98 | October 25, 2011
Directed by: Julien Magnat
Writer(s): Julien Magnat (written by)
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Julian McMahon, Sarah Wayne Callies, Michael Shanks, David Atrakchi
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Disc Size: 19.4 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
Plot: Anna (MILLA JOVOVICH) may be the only survivor of serial killer Tearjerk Jack’s horrendous reign, but left with “face blindness,” she is completely unable to identify him – or anyone else. Now, with only a tough but loyal detective’s (JULIAN MCMAHON) face familiar to her, she cannot trust anyone as she struggles to resume her normal life, and, plagued by fear and a vindictive Jack, struggles to survive.
Written and directed by Frenchman Julien Magnat, Faces in the Crowd follows in the footsteps of countless Hitchcock suspense-mysteries and even Christopher Nolan’s Memento, the latter even more so with a main character dealing with a mental disability blocking their path for the truth and survival. However, unlike Hitchcock’s mysteries or Memento, Faces doesn’t take advantage with a unique story idea weighed down by uninspiring performances (not bad, merely forgettable), a melodramatic story and some truly perplexing scenes that make little sense or downright break the rules Magnat set forth.
With regards to the cast, I will give credit to Milla Jovovich who is, sometimes rightly so, vilified on the Net for her bad performances. I’ve never been overly impressed with Jovovich (her acting anyway) from the ongoing Resident Evil franchise to her odds and end flicks in between (Ultraviolet was a dud while she was the only saving grace in Stone), but I felt here she put forth a valiant performance with some semblance of believability and a shade of depth which itself was unfulfilled. I should note, Jovovich served as one of the 17 producers on the film.
The supporting cast, however, I thought weren’t anything special, although given we see several different faces for the recurring characters, I can’t be overly critical. One issue on that front is while it’s good to keep the killer’s identity the key mystery, I never felt him all that threatening save for his initial attack. Now, for his part, Julian McMahon fulfills that pseudo love interest role well enough, of course his initial introduction came off a bit strangely as he seems to confuse toughness with being a jerk.
But acting and a few concerns with the screenplay aside, I did enjoy Faces in the Crowd as a decent thriller that managed to keep my attention for its relatively swift 100-minute running time. As I said, the script is hardly perfect Milla Jovovich gives a good performance and at times I got a bit of a Hitchockian vibe to Magnat’s direction, Vertigo in particular; blasphemous perhaps and I’m not saying it came anywhere near that, just I got that vibe albeit briefly.
Faces in the Crowd hardly breaks new ground in the suspense-mystery genre but I felt it was effective enough to warrant a recommendation to others. I liked some of the ambience writer/director Magnat presented as well as a unique way of conveying Anna’s condition by changing the face of each character nearly every time we see them. I know the movie has gotten a bad rap online, but I say give it a shot.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.5/5
Making “Faces” (2:47; SD) is a basic, and I do mean, basic, making-of featurette where we get general comments by the cast and crew about the plot.
Doppelgangers (5:40; SD) – This featurette covers the different actors used for the same role and how the casting process went by finding people who are similar but have slight differences.
Cast of Characters (5:17; SD) breaks down the ensemble and why they were right for the roles. The cast also talks about working with one another to which the experiences were wonderful. It’s nothing special and doesn’t offer much insight into the process.
Previews – Blitz, Trust, Elephant White, Shadows & Lies
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Millennium releases Faces in the Crowd onto Blu-ray with a splendid looking 1080p HD transfer. The film is presented with a 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and the detail level is excellent. The transfer itself is free of dust or scratches while the color array is well balanced without looking oversaturated. Black levels are also really good never showing any pixilation or artifacting.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The disc comes with a thumping 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Most of the movie is dialogue heavy coming through the center and front channels so you won’t notice much depth until we get to the club sequence where windows will rattle and the floor will shake. It’s not an overly aggressive lossless track but still quite good.
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, Faces in the Crowd hardly breaks new ground in the genre, but it has a few things going for it Milla Jovovich turns in a good performance, the mystery aspects are at least compelling and what writer/director Magnat does by putting the audience in the main character’s mindset is unique and effective. The Blu-ray itself is light in features but is strong with the audio and video transfers.