Faces in the Crowd (2011)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Faces in the Crowd</strong> (2011)

(On-demand video, March 2012) There’s nothing wrong with a high concept if it’s well-used, and at time Faces in the Crowd makes the most of its central gimmick: A woman who, after a brutal attack, can’t identify her attacker because of brain lesions causing prosopagnosia or, in layman’s term, an inability to recognize faces.  Writer/director Julien Magnat has a few good ideas on how to exploit the situation, and the film occasionally turns trippy as various actors are used to play the same characters in an effort to depict the protagonist’s state of mind.  The first hour of the film is particularly effective as it describes an unusual condition and the chills that can come from it.  Milla Jovovich also turns in an interesting performance in the lead role, as a vulnerable woman far from her usual butt-stomping heroines.  Unfortunately, Faces in the Crowd eventually runs out of steam –as much as it exploits its concept effectively, it also can’t avoid some obvious plot developments, and by the time it turns into another heroine-against-serial-killer showdown, some of the energy has run out of the film.  The ending can’t resist a few clichés along the way, including the one where the serial killer turns out to be one of the film’s existing characters.  Still, most of the movie isn’t too bad, there’s even some thematic depth to it, and anyone who has been to Winnipeg will have fun spotting some of the landmark used during the film’s production in an attempt to present itself as New York, most notably the Esplanade Riel bridge used during two crucial sequences.   Faces in the Crowd is considerably better than a lot of direct-to-video thrillers –at the very least, it’s interesting and has one or two new tricks down its sleeves.

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