The Mirror Has Two Faces

January 1996126 minutes
Comedy
278

In this romantic comedy-drama, a couple learns that the relationship between the mind and the body can take many different forms. Rose Morgan (Barbra Streisand) is a plain and pudgy middle-aged college English professor who shares a house with her mother, Hannah (Lauren Bacall). Rose got the brains in her family, but her sister Claire (Mimi Rogers) got the good looks, and as Claire prepares for her wedding to Alex (Pierce Brosnon), Rose can't help but despair over the blank page that is her love life, especially since she's long had a crush on Alex. Gregory Larkin (Jeff Bridges) teaches mathematics at the same school as Rose, and he has come to the conclusion that sex serves no purpose but to complicate relationships between men and women; after a series of disastrous romantic affairs, Gregory is looking for an intellectual relationship with a woman -- and nothing more. One day, Gregory passes by Rose's lecture hall as she discusses the role of chaste love in literature, and he's intrigued; he takes her out on a date and is impressed by Rose's quick wit and broad range of knowledge. Gregory is so taken with Rose that he proposes marriage, but under the condition that theirs be strictly a meeting of the minds, without sexual relations. While Rose is very much attracted to the handsome mathematician, the prospect of spending the rest of her life either alone or with Hannah seems far worse than a marriage without passion, and she agrees to his proposal. However, Rose's affection for Gregory makes it difficult for her to stop with a handshake, and one night she puts on her best nightgown and attempts to seduce her husband, much to Gregory's annoyance and confusion. Gregory leaves on a lecture tour shortly afterward, and after Hannah reassures a heartbroken Rose that she was beautiful as a child, Rose goes on a crash course in self improvement. She goes on a diet, starts working out, changes her hairstyle, learns a few makeup tricks, and revamps her wardrobe, and by the time Gregory returns, he discovers that there's a very different woman in the twin bed next to his own. The Mirror Has Two Faces, based on the 1958 French comedy Le Miror a Deux Faces, was Barbra Streisand's third project as a director; she also served as co-producer and helped compose the film's theme song, "I Finally Found Someone."
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Rotten Tomatoes® score
Audio language
English (Stereo)
Subtitles
Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Swedish
Info cards
Enabled
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Google Commerce Ltd.
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Run time
126 minutes
Dramatization of "Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy," by Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902-1991); originally published in Yiddish c. 1960, then in English c. 1983. The story: In an Ashkenazic shtetl in Poland, Yentl Mendel is the boyishly klutzy daughter and only child of long widowed Rebbe ("Talmud Teacher") Mendel, who teaches Talmud (a codification of Jewish Law) to local boys - and to Yentl, but secretly because girls were not allowed to learn the law in those days. When her father dies, Yentl is all alone in the world. She takes the momentous decision to leave the village and - disguised as a boy and calling herself by the name of her late brother, Anshel - seeks and gets admitted to a Yeshiva, to study the texts, traditions, subtleties and complexities of Torah, Talmud, etc. She befriends Avigdor who is engaged to Haddas, but her family discovers his brother committed suicide so they call off the wedding (in case Avigdor possesses the same madness). Anshel then finds "him"-self in the awkward position of being called into service as substitute bridegroom, so that the wedding can go ahead and Haddas will have a husband. It is a marriage that never gets consummated - apart from the more obvious reasons, because Haddas still wants Avigdor (though she eventually falls in love with Yentl, too). After numerous complications (including Avidor and Yentl falling in love with each other, briefly, after she reveals her secret to him, along with her bosom), the film ends with everybody getting what they always wanted - Haddas and Avigdor to live happily ever after with each other, while Anshel, now Yentl once again, goes off to America to pursue her dream of serious study in Yeshiva, where she will be able to study without needing to hide her identity as a woman.
Terrence McNally's stage play Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune was a two-character piece, which starred Kathy Bates and F. Murray Abraham on Broadway. Garry Marshall's film version of the McNally play streamlines the title to Frankie and Johnny, expands the dramatis personae to include at least a dozen fascinating characters, and "glamorizes" the decidedly unglamorous Frankie and Johnny in the forms of Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino (their first co-starring stint since Scarface). Purists carped at the changes, but overall the film is likeable enough to transcend these carps. While serving an 18-month sentence on a forgery charge, Johnny (Al Pacino) discovers the joys of cooking and classical literature. Upon his release, he is hired by gruff but good-hearted New York diner owner Nick (played by Garry Marshall "regular" Hector Elizondo). Also working for Nick is a waitress named Frankie (Michelle Pfeiffer). When Johnny expresses interest in Frankie, she keeps him at arm's length, her mistrust of men stemming from an unmentioned but obviously traumatic experience in her past. Eventually, however, Frankie and Johnny do get together, their curious relationship setting the stage for a dramatic denouement wherein both lovers bare their souls. The bulk of the original McNally play is concentrated in the film's final 20 minutes, the rest of the picture is a kaleidoscope of comic and poignant vignettes and quick-sketch character studies. Of the newly minted characters, the standout is Nathan Lane in the traditional "gay best friend/severest critic" role: he plays the character so effectively that one forgets he's essentially a cliché. As for the stars, Al Pacino is ideally cast as Johnny, but Michelle Pfeiffer, superb though she is, seems a bit ill at ease as the emotionally tattered Frankie, she totally wins the audience's hearts, however, in the film's memorable bowling-alley sequence. Smoothing over the rough spots in Frankie and Johnny is the evocative musical score by Marvin Hamlisch.
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