film

Faces in the Crowd is a run of the mill thriller that is elevated by an intriguing premise. After witnessing a serial killer in the act, Milla Jovovich is attacked herself and falls from a bridge. On waking she discovers she is suffering from prosopagnosia (or face blindness), a real life neurological disorder which means she can no longer recognise faces and that each time she sees the face again it looks very different. Consequently, despite being the only person to have clapped eyes on the killer, she has no idea what he looks like.

According to the press notes this is the feature debut of Oscar nominated writer director Julien Magnet. This is not strictly true if IMBD is to be believed. His student short received a nomination in 2001 and his debut low budget feature followed in 2002. What promise he showed then was then lost as he became a hack writer on animated kids TV shows such as Garfield and Iron Man. This is his return to movies and a clear step up from what he has done before. But is it any good?

Take away the face blindness and you will have seen this film a hundred times before. It does have a genuinely creepy thread going through it as the faces of her friends change every time she sees them, but this also serves to be extremely confusing. Julian McMahon turns up as an uncharismatic cop (sporting a ridiculous beard that turns out to be a plot point) and the rest of the cast are all nondescript ‘faces in the crowd’ which, I guess, is the idea but does not make for a very engaging viewing experience.

Milla Jovovich retains a very watchable screen presence and it is she who holds this film together. We see the confusing and frightening world through her and she acquits herself well. Ultimately though, this is not enough. Unintentionally funny moments, poor acting and too much exposition mean that for Julien Magnet the report will read ‘must try harder!’ or I fear the next job will be script doctor on Scooby Doo.

 

Best performance: Julian McMahon’s beard.

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