Ossus Library Index Drama Movie Index

THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES

Directed by Barbara Streisand (1996, Columbia Tristar)
Starring Barbara Streisand, Jeff Bridges, Lauren Bacall, and Pierce Brosnan

Two teachers enter into a relationship on the basis that sex is a hindrance to good communication.

View count: Twice

 

 

3 stars

April 20th, 2000 on TV

 
   

This was enjoyable the second time around, though I found many parts more annoying than I remember them being.  But it was a good lesson in showing how going to the other extreme is not healthy, either.

It was fun to see the boring math teacher and the enthusiastic English teacher mesh and contrast.  After failed romances on either side, it's enlightening to see them sit around and be cautious, but not so much that they don't want to explore each other. 

The best line in that part of the movie was "How do you get them to stay", meaning the students.  His lectures were so dull that people start falling asleep.  Even Rose, the English teacher, falls asleep in his class. 

Their discussions on math seemed a little too scripted, but it was really to show how they meshed together, how they stimulated each other intellectually, so that their bond wouldn't be physical.  And they grow to love each other because of that.

  When Gregory proposes to her, she wants a kiss before she makes up her mind.  Gregory is so insistent on a relationship that is not physical, that he can't even bring himself to do this without a lot of effort. 

This goes on to the point where she wants to have sex, after perhaps months of marriage, but he figures she should have grown beyond that.  He wants nothing to do with sex, and tries so hard to make sure it never enters the picture.  So she leaves him, and ends up back at her mother's house, where she has lived the last forty years of her life.

Rose's relationship with her mother is great.  Lauren Bacall plays it wonderfully.  She is obsessed with beauty that she can't see anything unless it is made up with makeup.  She patronizes Rose, doesn't let her eat much, or any variety that has the least bit of fat in it. 

So it is with great delight that she begins to take care of Rose after the breakup, turning her into a model, lightening her hair, sending her for manicures, getting her into the gym, and so on.

And when Gregory is finished with his European tour, he comes back to find a wife whom he doesn't know.  He flips out, because she isn't plain anymore.  She doesn't wear baggy clothes, showing cleavage, instead. 

He has to go and plead with her from her mother's apartment window, to get her to talk to him again.  And then he realizes that he has made a mistake.  It might be the intellectual that founded their relationship, but it doesn't have to be that exclusively. 

But the best scene has to come at the beginning of their marriage, after they watch a baseball game.  The next day, his class is falling asleep again, so he brings the ball game up in class, and makes a math set out of it.  The students are overwhelmed, asking so many questions that he can't keep up.  It is great.

There is a small sub-plot concerning Rose's sister, who is beautiful, and who has married a handsome man, who dotes on her every minute, so that it drives her insane.  Brosnan's character used to date Rose, so it tempts her when both relationships are on the rocks.  But she realizes how superficial he is, as they are about to make love.  So she leaves.

All of this began because Gregory misinterpreted part of Rose's lecture, in the crowded lecture hall.  She was expressing the views of some philosophers about love, and he leaves before she expresses her own opinions.  It's a terrific lecture about love, telling many truths, and explaining the truths about this movie, too.  It just feels too good to be in love, to be able to give it up!

 
   

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