It goes to the extent that the man who looks like the dead is so alive that the woman falls for him. The result is either terribly creepy or a deep, profound look at mourning.
Nikki and Garrett were obviously in love -- all the flashbacks prove that. Nikki opens the movie as she sits in shadow, staring at the ocean. All is blue-grey. She remembers the night of their 30th wedding anniversary, when he is a bit blotto in Mexico. She finds him drowned the next morning and enters her mourning. Ironically, her job is that of a stager, someone who comes in to give new life to real estate, to make empty places look lived in and buyable.
She sees a man who is the double of Garrett, and she stalks him on the campus where he teaches art. She asks him to teach her in her home. In one smart move, she turns over the photo of Garrett with her and their daughter Summer. The lessons are a ruse, and he, lonely, too, does catch on -- he is ready to love her, too. And then Summer comes home, sees this man, who is her dad's doppelganger, and screams and screams. It is no wonder that this man's next question is, "What's going on here?"
"The Face of Love" is a far cry from "Truly, Madly, Deeply," which sweetly explored love after death. It was co-written and directed by Arie Posin, who based the plot on an experience his widowed mother had. But Posen added aspects of that old weeper "Love Story" that don't help "The Face of Love" become more than an excuse to cry.
Annette Bening is appealing as Nikki in her mournful anguish, as she transitions from happy old wife to haggard new widow to happy seductress. Ed Harris is both sexy and darling as Garrett and appropriately befuddled as Tom. Robin Williams is a placeholder, and little else, as the recently widowed neighbor, who pines for Nikki. Jess Weixler, who plays an investigator on "Good Wife," is convincing as daughter Summer.
Posin's camera caresses the stairs and doors of the L.A. County Museum of Art like Garrett caresses Nikki's neck there. Posen moves effortlessly between the backstory and the current tale, but he's still produced a rather creepy soap opera.