The Two Faces of January

March 15, 2015


While there isn’t much depth below the excitement and thrill found in The Two Faces of January, it does allow us to probe the notion of the chain of being which leads people toward their undoing. I often meditate upon the adage that wise men learn to avoid trouble, and it is no wonder then that the majority of all the blight a human being poxes his soul with actually is rooted in his own power to be. This is of course a highly regarded mark on the sacredness of education, in having each human being inherit what is the best way to direct his free will, lest he run into the trouble seen in this film.


It must be noted that the young tour guide that gets himself into the trouble that his wealthy acquaintances bring with them is only because he was unethical to begin with. Poverty is the root of all evil deeds to paraphrase Euripides, but the young man himself has no excuses having been brought up harshly by an imposing university professor patriarch – and quite telling it is that a professor actually burdens his children, clearly dating the film before the hostile takeover of academia by the leftwing’s fomentation of the worker’s revolution. The young tour guide had the luxury to run away from the demands his father put on him, to live his own life as he pleased. And the result of which was skimming young college girls dollar exchanges making their way around Athens as a tour guide. Such comfort in denying the demands put on him is of course is what almost ultimately does him in – and it is unfortunate that the film lets him off easily, versus being sealed in a penitentiary tomb by the wealthy man he seeks to accomplice.


This wealthy man, played well by Viggo Mortenson, has a few demons of his own. We do not know the base reason for his achievement as a criminal, only that it is quite easy to understand the restraints poverty puts on the human condition, to make them self-aware and extremely sensitive to attaining material prosperity. This burden imposed upon them, the poor, is actually of the upmost timeliness in the current social malaise that has occurred indeed globally in the wake of the mismanagement of the world economy beset by the participation of imprudent money lending by the United States central bank, short-sighted private banking, and gluttonous individuals who seek to consistently live beyond their means as if this is what the American Dream commands. We can understand, however, why the impoverished seek material comfort as a raison de’tre, as it enables them a permanent sense of relief from worrying about paying the bills and if there is enough food in the house for the children’s supper and if warm clothes can be afford come January. Perhaps because of the baseness of fulfilling human desires as an ultimate end, the goal of rising prosperity for all is to allow all to exercise their being in a spiritual manner, away from craving a better steak than what can be purchased by the pound at a market, towards craving a better soul that can admire what is beyond sight and sound, to cultivate a higher sense of the meaning of pleasure. Of something that can only be sensed by the soul.


In any event, the entire captivating ordeal in the film rests on this pillar, that of the perennial human condition on what to become and the crisis it entails in inventing meaning for one’s being – the blessing and the curse in such an enterprise which is the ultimate challenge for philosophy to resolve: to provide the proper essence to being human.


Grade: A-



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