"The Face of Love," which opened Friday in Los Angeles and New York, is a movie about a well-to-do L.A. woman (Annette Bening) who becomes obsessed with a man who closely resembles her dead husband (both played by Ed Harris).
The movie is a reserved character study, a late-autumn romance and an exploration of the uncanny. It's also an ideal advertisement for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where key sequences of the story were shot.
Writer-director Arie Posin shot at LACMA over a four-day period in 2012. (The entire film was shot in 26 days.) The Times reported on the museum shoot two years ago when the title of the movie was "The Look of Love."
Posin said in a recent interview that LACMA officials gave permission to shoot on the grounds during public hours. A crucial scene involves Bening seeing the man who resembles her husband for the first time at an outdoor spot on the museum campus. She later returns in hopes of spotting him again.
The movie joins several other features to have used the museum as a shooting location, including John Cassavetes' "Minnie and Moskowitz," and the more recent "Beginners," which starred Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer, and "No Strings Attached," with Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher.
"The Face of Love" is scheduled to open wider next weekend and will be available on-demand. Here are four locations in and around LACMA where the movie was shot.
Rembrandt's "The Raising of Lazarus": The 17th century painting, which depicts Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, is located on the third floor of LACMA's Ahmanson building and is witnessed a few times throughout the movie, providing a clear thematic parallel to the plot. "I really wanted to shoot David Hockney's painting 'Mulholland Drive: The Road to the Studio,'" said Posin. "I wanted to shoot Bening and Harris walking down the length of this painting. But the Hockney folks wouldn't give us permission -- or at least for the amount we were offering, which was zero."
6th Street garage entrance: In an homage to "Vertigo," the Bening character surreptitiously follows Harris by car, starting from LACMA's underground garage to a busy stretch of 6th Street. "Shooting on 6th Street was really a challenge -- we didn't have the money, equipment, and we couldn't afford traffic enforcement," the director said. "But my producers made it work. They can make anything happen."
Broad Contemporary building: The Renzo Piano-designed building -- including its expansive central elevator -- is prominently featured during the Bening character's visits to the museum. "We were walking around priceless works of art with equipment," recalled the director. "The rule is no lighting on the paintings. In general, we had very little lighting. We had to turn off lights in between takes."
LACMA box office: Bening first witnesses Harris' character at a tranquil outdoor spot near the LACMA box office. "We chose the place, which was a palm garden near the ticket office," the director said. "It's not actually a park to walk around in. We put benches there and turned it into a courtyard. We shot that when the museum was open, and there were a lot of people there that day."
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