November 9, 2014

Annette Bening's 'Secret' Face...

I've always loved super-talented actress Annette Bening, but since her high profile multi- Oscar nominated streak some twenty years ago with movies like The Grifters, Bugsy and American Beauty,  we haven't seen that much of her.

While Bening married Warren Beatty and raised their kids, she worked less... and with the exception of Meryl Streep we don't see much of actresses over 50 anyway, unless they reinvent themselves on TV like Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates have.

Bening resurfaces once in a while, like with 2010's terrific The Kids Are Alright, but we don't see her very often, so it was a pleasure to discover on Netflix a Bening movie I had never heard of, 2013's romantic drama The Face Of Love.

This flick was shown at festivals and a few independent theatres before quickly going to video on demand;  but that doesn't mean its crap... if you want to see Bening in crap, look for her and Kristen Wiig in Girl Most Likely. In this case the low profile means it's low budget and somewhat artsy and slower paced..

In The Face Of Love, Bening loses her beloved husband, played by Ed Harris, in a drowning accident while they are on vacation in Mexico; we skip ahead five years, and she is still in mourning and her life is basically paralyzed while her grown daughter, played by The Good Wife's Jess Weixler, and infatuated neighbour, played by Robin Williams, worry about her.

Bening's character Nikki then meets and romances Tom, an artist who looks just like her husband, also played by Harris. She keeps the resemblance secret from him, and the romance secret from everyone in her life. And Tom keeps his heart condition a secret.

Nikki is lonely and emotionally suffocating to the point of imbalance, and Bening makes her sympathetic while we also see she is too far gone. 

It all comes to a head when her daughter Summer, who was pleased about her mother finding a new love, lays eyes on Tom, which sends her into a rage. Tom, surprised by that reaction, accepts when Nikki asks him to run off to Mexico with him... where he learns about her husband.

And then... okay I will stop there, you gotta see this one. The story is unusual, the acting is amazing. See The Face Of Love.