A film in which one woman is given a second chance to physically be with her husband and get the closure she needs.
Review (with Spoilers)
As I said when it came to Enough Said, there is really this strange lack of middle-aged, or beyond, romance films. At least when it comes to stuff which comes across my recommendations anyway. So it makes finding a film like this so beautiful for while there isn’t the usual over the top romantic gestures, it does somehow make you fall in love with the idea of being with someone for years. Though it also holds that reminder that your loved one can be taken from you at any minute and truly the two sides it presents to love makes you want to smile and cry.
Characters & Story
For most of Nikki’s (Annette Bening) life, she has been married to Garrett (Ed Harris). They have a daughter together, Summer (Jess Weixler), would yearly go to Mexico and seemed to have a happy life. But on their last trip together tragedy strikes. Leaving Nikki seemingly with just the company of Roger (Robin Williams), a fellow widow, for 5 years. That is until Tom (Ed Harris) magically appears and with his appearances you are introduced to Nikki’s 2nd chance with Garrett. Though you aren’t really sure if Tom truly looks like Garrett, or if Nikki’s grief is playing tricks on her.
Let me first start by saying that, for once, I enjoyed Robin Williams performance in something. If just because not only is he not the lead, despite top billing, but it seems he toned down his usual manic persona to actual play a human being. That aside, it really is the love story between Bening and Harris which keeps you attentive. For one, they have good chemistry and really present the idea of growing old with someone to be such an ideal thing.
Yet, as noted in the intro, watching Bening deal with the death of her husband really just creates this feeling where, even if you’re not in a relationship, nor around Bening’s age, you easily can feel what she is going through. Because with the movie starting you off caught up in the idea of growing old with someone, it is such a punch in the gut to imagine that special someone dying before you and you being left with these memories you can never replicate. Never mind finding someone new who could live up to your expectations, or even surpass them.
Which makes the transition of Harris from Garrett to Tom so interest for you aren’t sure if he is real. After all, even after five years, you can tell Nikki isn’t fully over Garrett’s death. With him dying she lost her love of swimming, art, and though she has Roger’s company, romance with him she sort of makes seem like a sad rebound she wants to avoid.
So when Harris is reintroduced as Tom, it brings on this idea, at least for me, that maybe she is imagining things. First you wonder if he is real since he barely interacts with anyone, then you question if Nikki is just picturing Garrett’s face on a man who may not look like him at all, but by the end of the movie you begin to question if this is even reality? For as Nikki starts to unravel, I honestly wondered if maybe we were just witnessing the delusions of a woman lost in her own head.
Not to spoil things fully, but I really wish when it came to Harris, as Tom, that Summer wasn’t the sole person who seemed to have the opportunity to really react to seeing him. I would have loved to see Roger react to him as well. Plus, I honestly felt like I wanted to see what happened between the two-time jumps.
The first one is 5 years after Garrett dies and I would have liked to see Nikki’s struggle in adjusting to living without Garrett more. For while the film does use flashbacks to illustrate their relationship, I think a few extra minutes to show what happened during that 5-year gap could have been nice. Then the 2nd one is post meeting Tom which could have also used a nice montage, even if during the credits.
Lastly, a part of me really thought it was odd Nikki didn’t look into whether Garrett had a missing twin or something. I get she was just happy to find someone who looked like her husband, but you’d think she would have been curious about finding this exact replica.
Overall: Worth Seeing
Truly I haven’t seen a romance film in a long time which dealt with not just a loved one dying, but also a strong focus on trying to move on. And I have to say the chemistry between Bening and Harris really makes me hope they join each other for another romance film. Hell, I may even go for Williams and Bening being love interest since, I must admit, I kind of wanted to see their relationship go somewhere. Overall, though, The Face of Love really is an entertaining film which contains all the cuteness of young love, yet the unfortunate reality of when you realize love and romance isn’t going to last forever, but just the next couple of years or decade.