This film, “The Face of Love,” has an extremely talented cast which makes up somewhat for the improbable premise which could not possibly hold water for the length of time that it supposedly did. It is, however, a pleasant movie to sit through and wonder just what the ending will be.
Annette Bening - Wikimedia
Nikki (Annette Bening) and her husband Garret (Ed Harris) were very much in love even though their 30th anniversary was coming up. The couple planned to spend that special time at a resort in Mexico which had been their favorite for several years. Garret had smuggled some pot across the border to make his time more fun, and presented his beautiful wife with an expensive necklace to mark the occasion. When Garret went for a swim one morning, Nikki was concerned when he did not return after such a long stay. On a walk down the beach, she spotted Garret lying at the edge of the water with the waves splashing up on him. Moving closer, she realized that Garret had died and his body had washed up on the beach.
Nikki Adjusts to Widowhood
Nikki had a difficult time adjusting to widowhood. Her twenty-something daughter Summer (Jess Weixler) was undergoing a difficult time herself, winding down a long-term relationship with her boyfriend Josh, and was contemplating going out on her own. Nikki and Summer lived in a beautiful house, which Garret had designed, and which included a swimming pool for their entertainment and exercise regimens. Roger (Robin Williams), their neighbor, lived across the street, and was a frequent visitor, having been a close friend of Garret’s. Roger was a widower himself, and it was obvious that he would like to have a romantic relationship with Nikki, but Nikki viewed him as just a friend.
Ed Harris - Wikimedia
Five Years Have Elapsed
Five years into her widowhood, Nikki had obtained a job as a house stager: a person who prepares a house that is for sale to make it more appealing to a prospective buyer. On her days off, she enjoyed going to the art museum where she and Garret spent many happy hours. Strolling in the gardens outside the museum, she noticed a man sitting on a bench who bore an uncanny resemblance to her husband Garret. She watched him go off in his car and returned the next day to seek him out again.
Nikki Researches the Stranger
It was after several days of lurking in the art museum when Nikki spotted the stranger’s car in the parking ramp, and she moved in closer to notice a book on the back seat, designating that it belonged to the faculty of Occidental College, a local institution. At home, Nikki looked up the college faculty on the internet, and learned that the stranger’s name was Tom Young, and he was an Art teacher.
Boldly, Nikki visited the college and went to his art class. She asked him if she might join the class, but since it was the middle of the semester, that could not happen. She started to cry, and without an explanation, she left the room.
Robin Williams - Wikimedia
Nikki Asks for Private Lessons
Nikki made another visit to the college, and saw the teacher coming out of the building. He recognized her and stopped to talk. He said that his name was Tom Young. Nikki learned that he had been divorced for ten years, and asked if he took private students outside of his school day. She said he could come to her house. Tom researched her on the internet and decided that she would make a respectable student. He went to her house. Nikki said that her husband had left her five years ago. She had an initial lesson, and Tom Young promised to return the next week.
When Roger stopped by, Nikki mentioned to him that she had met a man who was exactly her type. She also said that she could not keep anything of Garret’s around the house; it was just too painful. She purged the house of all of his belongings. Roger admitted that he was disappointed; he was hoping that they could become more than just friends.
Tom Confides in His Ex-Wife
Tom made a call to his ex-wife Ann (Amy Brenneman) to retrieve his painting supplies which were stored at her house. She was surprised because Tom had not done any private painting the ten years since they had divorced. He mentioned to her that he had met someone, and she was truly happy for him. She asked him if he had mentioned to his new friend that he had a heart problem. Tom said “No.” For a divorced couple, they had a pleasant, considerate relationship.
When Tom came for Nikki’s second lesson, he mentioned that they might visit some art galleries together, as part of a lesson. When he said that he was on the way to the gym to swim, Nikki invited him to swim at her house and to have lunch with her. He was happy to accept. Roger was on his way over to have a swim also, but noticed that Nikki had company and left. Nikki had been careful not to introduce Tom to Roger or to Summer because of his strong resemblance to Garret.
Paints and Brushes - Wikimedia
The Relationship Advances
After Tom left, he called Nikki on the phone and asked her if she would have dinner with him. She said yes, if she could pick the place. They went to a restaurant that Nikki and Garret favored, and Nikki was embarrassed that the waiter acknowledged both of them, thinking that Tom was Garret. Nikki was so disturbed, she left for the ladies’ room and stayed there for some time. When Tom came to retrieve her, she asked him to take her home.
At this point, the viewer has the sense that Nikki has a serious psychological problem. It seems reckless that she has not admitted to Tom that he bore a strong resemblance to her husband, and that her husband had died, rather than just walked out on her, as she had claimed.
On the way home, Tom talked gently to Nikki and they kissed. The next scene showed Tom in Nikki’s shower and Nikki in her bed. They had obviously solved any problem that they had.
Tom showed Nikki his house which she thought looked like a museum with all his art work and paint supplies. He had moved back there ten years ago when he was divorced. One painting was covered and Tom did not want to unveil it to Nikki until he had finished it. Nikki finally got the courage to tell Tom that Garret had died; he had not left her.
Summer Meets Tom
When Summer came home unexpectedly one day, Tom was there and Summer freaked out when she saw him. She yelled at him to get out, but Nikki told him to stay and asked Summer to leave instead. She asked Tom if he would take her to Mexico. They could leave in the morning.
Amy Brenneman Wikimedia
Nikki and Tom Travel to Mexico
In Mexico, their accommodation was at the place which Nikki and Garret liked so much, and where he had drowned. At the bar, Nikki asked Garret to get her a drink. On the wall over the bar were several pictures of past patrons who had visited the resort. Tom spotted a picture of Nikki and Garret on the wall. He brought it to Nikki and showed it to her.
No Spoiler Here
The ending to this story occurred one year later, but it will not be revealed here. You must see the film. Much can happen in a year’s time. I enjoyed this film and feel it would be worth your time to witness the brilliance of these seasoned actors who have not lost their touch after so many years of plying their trade.