Face of Love, film review: Robin Williams delivers a poignant performance

(12A) Arie Posin, 90 mins. Starring: Annette Bening, Ed Harris, Robin Williams

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The Independent Culture

Arie Posin’s melodrama about love, bereavement and self-deception owes an obvious (and acknowledged) debt to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. (At one stage, we catch a glimpse of the poster for Hitchcock’s film in a dining room.)

Annette Bening plays Nikki, an LA widow and interior designer whose husband, Garrett (Ed Harris), drowned some years before. At the LA County Museum of Art, one of her late husband’s favourite haunts, she spots a man who looks exactly like Garrett. This is Tom (also played by Harris), an artist and teacher, who is divorced.

Visually, the film is very conventional. It unfolds in the affluent LA suburban homes of its art-loving protagonists and has none of the giddy, expressionistic quality of Vertigo. The actors, though, lift the material. The most poignant performance comes from the late Robin Williams in a cameo as Nikki’s neighbour and friend, Roger. She knows him as a friend of her late husband and little suspects that he is in love with her. Williams portrays very affectingly, and slightly creepily, the character’s anger, humiliation and sense of self-pity at the casual way in which he is rebuffed.

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