Love makes you do strange things. Gareth (Ed Harris) was the love of Nikki’s (Annette Bening) life. They led a charmed life, with a beautiful daughter (Jess Weixler) until in a terrible twist of fate, he was drowned while on vacation. The suddenness of his passing left Nikki with no closure until five years later when she catches a glimpse of Tom (Harris again), who is a real live dead ringer for her late husband.
She charms him and soon they are in love, or are they? Nikki never tells Tom about his resemblance to Gareth raising the question, Is she in love with Tom or a memory?
“The Face of Love” is a grown up look at grief, love and aging.
There will be as many reactions to Nikki ‘s actions as there are audience members. Is she a selfish conniver, a grief stricken widow or one brick short of a load? She sincerely says things like, “I’ve always loved you,” which in context, is open to a variety of interpretations.
The movie allows for interpretation, and regardless of your take, AB’s performance is so raw and vulnerable it’s difficult to completely condemn her behavior.
Harris is an open book–“I could take a bath in how you look at me,” he coos–and coming to grips with aging–which he describes as “walking backwards into the sunset. Thinking about the good times… and the bad times.”–as he loses his heart to her. It’s a nimble, warm, endearing performance and its great to see Bening and Harris spark off one another.
“The Face of Love” also features good work from Robin Williams as a lovesick neighbor but the star of the show are Nikki ‘s unresolved feelings that haunt every frame.