With an increasingly multitudinous selection of film releases each week, it takes something special to make a movie stand out from the rest. However, as with the aptly named Faces in the Crowd (2011), many are just bland and indecipherable. This new thriller starring Milla Jovovich is the debut feature from Oscar-nominated writer/director Julien Magnat – though don’t hold your breath on him repeating that accolade anytime soon.
Life is perfect for Anna Marchant (Jovovich) until she accidentally witnesses a murder by a notorious serial killer terrorising the area where she lives. Attacked by the killer, Anna survives only to be left with ‘face blindness’ – meaning she cannot remember anyone’s face even if she turns away for a split second. This is unfortunate for her but convenient for the killer as she can’t remember what he looks like, meaning he could be anyone – and they’ve just discovered she’s still alive.
Faces in the Crowd must hold the record for the most producers ever (14 in all). However, even they can’t save it from Jovovich’s limited acting abilities. The one-time supermodel was passable in adventure dramas like The Three Musketeers 3D (2011) and Joan of Arc (1999) and Luc Besson’s sci-fi epic The Fifth Element (1997) where any shortcomings in the portrayal of emotion could be glossed over by costumes and effects. Given a contemporary (albeit far fetched) scenario, the Ukrainian beauty seems out of her depth.
Unfortunately for Jovovich, there is also the presence of English icon Marianne Faithfull (best known for collaborations with The Rolling Stones) who knocks the socks off the rest of the cast in the few scenes in which she appears. The original 1960’s rock chick is mesmerising as Anna’s straight-talking therapist, and could teach many aspiring thespians (Jovovich included) a lesson in the art of ‘less is more’.
Faithfull aside, Faces in the Crowd’s only other saving grace is its moody aesthetic, particularly during the climatic confrontation with the killer on a rain swept bridge, clearly influenced by Dario Argento right down to the torn tarpaulins and slashing knives. If Argento had been at the helm, this exercise in blandness may have stood more chance of standing.