Faces in the Crowd middling thriller borne of an interesting idea with a disgusting attitude towards women, because after all, what are women good for if not going out for cocktails and hunting for men with cute butts, and then talking about the dresses they wear to ensure they capture said men with cute butts and then topping it off with a conversation about all the other men with whom they have been who also happen to have cute butts?
Mila Jovovich plays Anna Marchant, a teacher who isn’t informed enough to know that there is a serial killer operating in her area. On a walk home, at night, through the big city, she accidentally confronts the killer and an altercation leaves her alive but she must live with the cognitive disorder prosopagnosia, which is face blindness. This means she cannot identify the killer, or the people closest to her in life, because she sees faces differently each time she looks at them.
The premise is interesting for a crime thriller and the face-shifting is well done, and as subtle as it can be (although I’m not sure if this is because all the other characters are so unmemorable that it’s difficult to remember what they looked like, I’m still not entirely sure what Anna’s partner was supposed to look like) and overall the film is well filmed and good looking.
The minor plaudits end here, however, as the rest of the film is deplorable. In particular, the characters are awfully put together based on a string of flimsy and offensive stereotypes of both genders.
All the women care about is sex and men. Ancillary women are there to serve men, with the exception of the overly wordy and pretentious sounding female psychiatrist/neurologist (who manages to serve the dual purpose of pseudoscientific exposition and to further the stereotype of female cute butt lovers). The male characters are indentikit stereotypes; crazy drunk homeless man; angry, righteous policeman; successful but unexciting husband; the understanding but unable to help principal for the school she is employed by.
I almost had to stop watching this film around two thirds of the way through. Mila Jovovich’s character learns that there is a chance that her long term partner may have been the killer, and less than a day later sleeps with the police detective.**SPOILERS** When it transpires that her husband was not involved she shows no remorse and continues with the detective, showing more remorse for his death, having known him briefly, than she shows any emotion for the death of her relationship or her partner.
Not even the draw of a name star like Jovovich is enough to pull this film out of any mire that it finds itself in. There is a reason why Mila Jovovich didn’t have any personality in the Resident Evil films, here her character calls for a normal person, intimate relationships with other people and normal interaction with the other characters and it fails in almost every sense. Her grating attempt at personality isn’t even useful to highlight some kind of alienation she is feeling and the contrast between her former self and her face blindness self is over wrought and hard to watch at times.
Faces in the Crowd has the constituent parts of a solid thriller but it becomes bogged down and destroyed by its poisonous, nasty tone and the depiction of its characters, especially the female ones, and it should be avoided at all costs, unless you’re looking for men with cute butts.
Director: Julien Magnat
Running Time: 98 minutes