The Mirror Has Two Faces
|The Mirror Has Two Faces|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Barbra Streisand|
|Produced by||Barbra Streisand|
|Screenplay by||Richard LaGravenese|
|Story by||Richard LaGravenese|
|Based on||Le Miroir à deux faces|
by André Cayatte
|Music by||Marvin Hamlisch|
|Edited by||Jeff Werner|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
The Mirror Has Two Faces is a 1996 American romantic comedy-drama film produced and directed by Barbra Streisand, who also stars. The screenplay by Richard LaGravenese is loosely based on the 1958 French film Le Miroir à deux faces written by André Cayatte and Gérard Oury, which focused on a homely woman who becomes a beauty, which creates problems in her marriage.
Rose Morgan (Streisand), a middle-aged English literature professor at Columbia University, shares a home with her vain, overbearing mother, Hannah (Bacall). While attending the wedding of her also-vain sister, Claire (Rogers), to Alex (Brosnan) - who were introduced during Claire's second marriage, when Rose and Alex were dating - she tells her best friend, Doris (Vaccaro) that she has reached the point in her life where she knows she'll never get married. But she also ruminates on how wonderful it might feel to have a partner who knows the things she likes, the things she's afraid of; who really knew her. Shortly after, Rose has to deflect a drunken and too-touchy Alex - revealing she still has complicated feelings for Alex - and collect her sister, who has been dancing and making out with some random wedding guest.
Gregory Larkin (Bridges) is a Columbia Mathematics teacher who can't seem to connect with students and also loses all his rational perspective as soon as he is aroused by an attractive woman. Just a few moments after beginning a talk about his new book on the "Twin Prime Conjecture", his ex-girlfriend Candace (Macpherson) arrives. She flusters him so much, subtly flirting from the audience, that he has a panic attack and is unable to continue. While recovering, Gregory begs his best friend, Henry (Segal), not to let him go home with Candace, but leaves with her the second she offers. Back at his place, she goes to leave right after they've had sex. She admits that she's still with her new boyfriend but wanted to bolster her ego because he was cheating on her. When she leaves Gregory in a state of frustration and rejection, he spends the rest of the night first ranting at sex-centered commercials on the TV, and later to a phone-sex worker he is prompted to call from one of those commercials. While complaining about how ads are all about sex, and that sex interferes with his desire to share his life with someone, she tells him to take out his own ad. He decides to place a personals ad that reads, "Columbia University professor (male) seeks woman interested in common goals and companionship. Must have Ph.D. and be over thirty-five. Physical appearance not important!"
During an exam in his class, he is sorting through the responses - into piles marked, "Rejects," "Too Pretty" and "Possibilities" - and finds a response that Claire sent on behalf of Rose, mentioning Rose also teaches at Columbia. After a brief phone call with Claire, Gregory attends a small segment of a lecture Rose is giving on love, sex and passion in literature. Because he leaves after only a few minutes, he misses the context for the oral presentation and presumes she shares his views of how sex interferes with true intellectual and emotional connection, when she is describing the idea of courtly love and how its popularity arose because stories of passion lead to madness, death and tragedy. That night he calls her, claiming he wants to talk about her teaching style, and after a series of mishaps, asks her out to dinner. On their second night out, Gregory explains to Rose that sex doesn't interest him, and shares his developing views on removing sex from relationships - presuming she largely agrees with him. At first she is confused, but when she gets the whole picture, she doesn't correct his assumptions. They begin a relationship that is akin to dating, but without any physical intimacy beyond an occasional hug.
After three months, Gregory proposes marriage. He reinforces that their relationship will be built on common interest and caring, not sex, though he does agree to occasional sex provided Rose gives him enough advance warning. Rose is reticent to marry a man she's never kissed, so they exchange a brief kiss, which Rose tries to continue but Gregory is distracted by making sure that she knows he found her via an ad that Claire replied to. Back home, she tells her mother about the proposal, including the non-traditional parts. She and her mother fight, Rose accusing Hannah of being jealous that any man would want her, much less a good-looking man, even if he doesn't want her in the traditional way. She says that her mother was married to a man who adored her and raised two children with her, and she should want at least a little piece of that same happiness for Rose - reminding her that both of them are getting older.
Gregory and Rose marry in a court-house ceremony, with Hannah, Claire, Alex, Doris and Henry in attendance. Doris and Alex are excessively congratulatory, Claire tells Gregory (with Rose right there) she would've answered the ad for herself if she'd known how attractive he was, and Henry says their relationship will be interesting to watch. After they marry, the relationship continues to grow and become more emotionally intimate, with hints of physical attraction. Rose teaches Gregory about baseball, intriguing with him talks of stats and averages, which he parlays into a lively discussion on the mathematics of hitting a home run. He is overjoyed by this response, and over dinner out that night, asks Rose what he can do to repay her. They share another moment of physical attraction, leaving Gregory panting and dizzy when Rose excuses herself to deal with a glob of salad dressing on her dress.
While they're discussing a European speaking tour about his book, Rose asks if now is enough advanced warning to tell him she'd like to have sex tonight. He briefly loses it, spitting out his coffee, and she tries to backpedal, offering to wait until after the trip. He reluctantly agrees that tonight is fine. That night she tries to make the scene seductive, while he tries at first to keep it benign. Eventually she starts actively kissing him, which he eventually returns quite amorously. They end up on the floor, passionately making out, until Gregory insists he doesn't want to do this and pulls away. While she cries silently, only giving him non-verbal responses, she admits that she had hoped that his feelings on sex and passion would change as they became closer. He expresses disappointment in her, implying her behavior is a "female-manipulation" without ever actually acknowledging that he only stopped it because he got carried away. He immediately realizes he's made it worse, when he says he "took every precaution to make sure there was no physical attraction." She breaks down and flees to the bathroom. Hours later, while he's asleep, she sneaks out with a bag of her stuff and goes home. Hannah asks her what happen, and they have a conversation where Rose asks her about what it was like to be seen as beautiful, and the things Hannah said to her as a child, to make her doubt her own beauty. After Gregory leaves for his tour, without Rose speaking to him, Hannah admits to her feelings of jealousy, to never having loved Rose's father the way Rose loves Gregory, and that she might've unintentionally hurt Rose growing up. She shows Rose a photo of young girl, who Rose presumes to be Claire and is commenting on how beautiful the little girl was - then Hannah says it's not a picture of Claire, but of her.
Rose comes to decide that feeling beautiful and desired is something she wants in her life, but that she's ignored those feelings due to living in the shadow of Hannah and Claire. She changes her diet and starts a rigorous exercise regimen, lightens and cuts her hair, starts wearing more curve-favoring clothing and learns what cosmetics flatter her in ways she prefers. During this time Gregory is more and more impatient that she isn't returning his calls, calling her behavior childish. He has to find out from Henry, who found out from Hannah, that Rose cancelled her summer classes. Finally he leaves a message that he's cutting his trip short and coming home. When he arrives at the apartment, a romantic dinner is prepared and music is playing. When Rose emerges from the bedroom, he "almost doesn't recognize her." He at first is shocked by her appearance, but eventually moves to appalled, going so far as to say he feels betrayed by the changes she's made and demands an explanation. She makes it clear that she likes the way she looks and owes no one any explanations, eventually telling him, "What's the difference what I look like, you never looked anyhow. If physical appearance doesn't matter, then what's wrong with this appearance." He begrudgingly concedes that he'll just have to get used to these changes, at which time Rose tells him that she doesn't want to continue in their marriage. She admits she lied to herself and him, about what kind of relationship she was willing to settle for, and that his theories on love and sex are "bullshit." She says she stupidly fell in love with him, talking over him because she presumes he's going to defend his beliefs in leaving their marriage as it was, but says she's not in love with him anymore. She leaves for good, in a moment that is eerily reminiscent of the night Candace used and left him.
Rose temporarily moves back in with her mother, while she looks for her own place. Henry is worried about Gregory, who is pretending that he's unbothered by Rose leaving him, and that he still believes it could've worked with someone other than her. Henry advises him to hide his breakables, for when the facade crumbles. Claire is unnerved by the change in Rose and the attention both she and Rose get from her husband. One day Alex comes home to find Claire in bed with her masseuse, and they decide to separate. While she's comforting him, Alex asks Rose to have dinner with him. After talking to Claire first, she agrees, but what had seemed like a mutually seductive dinner ends when Rose finally realizes that the fantasy of Alex is a lot better than the reality. She tells him that she always focused on his feelings not hers, and that she thought she wasn't good enough for him. When he insists that she is good enough, she tells him that he's not good enough for her and leaves. Gregory starts lashing out at students due to the stress of his failing marriage. He then has a heated phone conversation with Hannah because she tells him that Rose is with Alex now, and he should just give up. He ends up on Henry's couch as an emotional and physical wreck, insisting that he loved Rose as she was and he doesn't know what to do. Henry encourages him to fight for a relationship that's more substantial than any one dimension, whether it's his own sex-centered relationships or Gregory and Rose's sex-less marriage.
Not long before sunrise, Gregory goes to Rose's apartment. When the doorman won't let him in, he stars screaming up to her window, eventually being tackled by the doorman who is trying to make him leave. Hannah acts appalled at Gregory's "insane" behavior, while Rose is overjoyed. She throws on a robe and a scarf and rushes out to break things up between Gregory and the doorman. He tells her that he loves her, and that what caused him to pull away that night was how desperately he wanted her. Gregory admits that he has no right to tell her these things, now that she's with Alex. Rose tells him she's not with Alex and realizes Hannah told him that to force his hand. They both confess they're still in love and when Gregory says he wants to be married to her again, she reminds him that he is still married to her. As they kiss, a neighbor starts playing operatic music loud enough that it reverberates down the street, and they awkwardly acknowledge it before spending the end credits dancing around the street outside her apartment building. After the sun comes up, they catch a taxi home.
- Barbra Streisand as Rose Morgan-Larkin
- Jeff Bridges as Gregory Larkin
- Lauren Bacall as Hannah Morgan
- George Segal as Henry Fine
- Mimi Rogers as Claire Morgan
- Pierce Brosnan as Alex
- Brenda Vaccaro as Doris
- Austin Pendleton as Barry
- Elle Macpherson as Candice
- Taina Elg as Professor
- Andrew Parks as Waiter
- Leslie Stefanson as Sara Myers
The film had a budget of $42 million, it grossed $41 million in the US and a further $33 million internationally with a worldwide gross of $73 million. It also earned an estimated $18,377,057 in rentals accumulated, and gave it a final gross of $91 million.
In her review in the New York Times, Janet Maslin called the film's first hour "light and amusing" but added, then [Barbra Streisand] impresses her audience with good will hubris that goes through the roof. Beguiling as she can be in ugly duckling roles, she becomes insufferable as this story's gloating swan . . . The overkill of The Mirror Has Two Faces is partly offset by Ms. Streisand's genuine diva appeal. The camera does love her, even with a gun to its head. And she's able to wring sympathy and humor from the first half of this role. The film also has a big asset in Ms. Bacall . . [who delivers] her lines with trademark tart panache . . . and cuts an elegant and sardonic figure".
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said the film "approaches the subject of marriage warily and with wit, like a George Bernard Shaw play . . . it's rare to find a film that deals intelligently with issues of sex and love, instead of just assuming that everyone on the screen and in the audience shares the same popular culture assumptions. It's rare, too, to find such verbal characters in a movie, and listening to them talk is one of the pleasures of The Mirror Has Two Faces . . . this is a moving and challenging movie".
In the San Francisco Chronicle, Edward Guthmann described the film as "a silly affirmation fantasy . . . that Streisand . . . uses to prove she's really beautiful, funny and worthy of being loved, gosh darn it . . . hasn't she returned to the theme of Homely Girl Redeemed, and crowned herself the victor, countless times? Look back and you'll see that Streisand's career, from the beginning, was one long battle cry for geeks and wallflowers and Jewish girls with big noses - a series of wish-fulfillment scenarios in which she, the perennial underdog, triumphs by dint of talent, chutzpah and a really great personality . . . in its first half The Mirror is a romantic-comic delight: nicely directed . . . well-acted by a terrific cast and peppered with great one-liners . . . by the second half . . . the movie has disintegrated into a humorless, drawn-out plea for reassurance".
Todd McCarthy of Variety called it "a vanity production of the first order. A staggeringly obsessive expression of the importance of appearances, good looks and being adored, Barbra Streisand's third directorial outing is also, incidentally, a very old-fashioned wish-fulfillment romantic comedy that has been directed and performed in the broadest possible manner . . . From the beginning, it is clear that Streisand intends to hit every point squarely on the head and maybe bang it a few extra times for good measure. Every gag, every line and every emotional cue is pitched to the top balcony so no one will miss a thing, and there are quite a few moments of self-examination and discovery where one nearly expects the star to break into song to underline what she is really feeling . . . the subject of the director's uninterrupted gaze. Lit and posed in an old-time movie star way you rarely see anymore, she plays out her career-long is-she-or-isn't-she-beautiful comic psychodrama one more time, with the girlish uncertainties wiped out with the speed of a costume change. If one were to take it all seriously, one would have to point out that there just isn't that much difference in Rose Before and After, that Streisand hasn't allowed herself to look unappealing enough to justify the big change. No matter. The narcissism on display is astonishing to behold, and veteran Barbra worshipers will have a field day. Beyond that, pic does deliver a number of laughs, deep-dish luxury on the production side and an engagingly enthusiastic performance from Bridges".
Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly rated the film C- and added, "We know these two people are lonely and afraid of love and deserve our empathy. But they enact their tightly choreographed pas de deux in such a hermetically sealed universe that our emotions can never be engaged. Instead, we are left to muse, "Oy vey, does Streisand know how over-the-top she is?" That's not to say that Mirror is difficult to sit through. The synthetic one-liners that pass for humor and sentiment . . . are struck regularly, like gongs . . . The settings are pretty. The music is slick".
In the Washington Post, Rita Kempley called the film "Barbra Streisand's latest folly" and added, "Although meant to be a bubbly romantic comedy, the movie is actually a very public tragedy for Streisand, who still can't quite believe that she's not Michelle Pfeiffer . . . at 54, it's time to get over girlish hang-ups, forget the noble schnoz and thank God that unlike Cher, you're still recognizable".
In the newspaper's Weekend section, Desson Howe opined, "For Streisand fans, this ugly-duckling parable . . . is going to be the perfect experience. But for those who make crucifix signs with their fingers when her name is mentioned, this is definitely one to miss . . . the running time is hardly helped by a plethora of strategically framed shots of Rose's legs, new hairstyle, luscious lips and misty-blue eyes, after she has undergone a physical makeover. There is comic relief, however, from Lauren Bacall as Hannah, Rose’s egocentric, materialistic mother. Her withering lines . . . counteract some of the ubiquitous narcissism".
Lauren Bacall's performance earned praise, winning her the Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress. She also earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, the first in her then-50-plus year career.
Awards and honors
|Academy Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Lauren Bacall||Nominated|
|Best Original Song||I Finally Found Someone, by Barbra Streisand, Marvin Hamlisch, Robert John "Mutt" Lange & Bryan Adams||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical||Barbra Streisand||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Lauren Bacall||Won|
|Best Original Song||I Finally Found Someone, by Barbra Streisand, Marvin Hamlisch, Robert John "Mutt" Lange & Bryan Adams||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Marvin Hamlisch||Nominated|
|BAFTA||Best Supporting Actress||Lauren Bacall||Nominated|
|SAG Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Lauren Bacall||Won|
|San Diego Film Critics Society||Best Supporting Actress||Lauren Bacall||Won|
|Satellite Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Lauren Bacall||Nominated|
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
Original music for the film was composed by Marvin Hamlisch. It received a nomination for Best Original Score at the 54th Golden Globe Awards. On November 12, 1996, Sony released the soundtrack on CD. The CD single for "I Finally Found Someone" also contains a Spanish-language version of Streisand's "Evergreen" ("Tema de Amor de Nace Una Estrella"). The soundtrack listing is here:
- "Main Title / In Questa Reggia"
- "Got Any Scotch?"
- "An Ad?"
- "In a Sentimental Mood"
- "Rose Sees Greg"
- "Alex Hurts Rose"
- "The Dating Montage"
- "My Intentions?"
- "You Picked Me!"
- "A Funny Kind of Proposal"
- "Picnic in the Park"
- "Greg Falls For Rose"
- "Try a Little Tenderness" - David Sanborn
- "The Mirror"
- "Going Back to Mom"
- "Rocking in the Chair"
- "The Power Inside of Me" - Richard Marx
- "Rose Leaves Greg"
- "Rose Dumps Alex"
- "Greg Claims Rose"
- "The Apology / Nessun Dorma" - Luciano Pavarotti with London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta
- "I Finally Found Someone" - Barbra Streisand and Bryan Adams
- "All of My Life" - Barbra Streisand
- , Janet. - Movie Review: "The Mirror Has Two Faces". - New York Times. - November 15, 1996.
- Ebert, Roger. - "The Mirror Has Two Faces". - Chicago Sun-Times. - November 15, 1996.
- Guthmann, Edward. - "In Babs' Vanity Case, `Mirror' Has One Face: Streisand overdoes the ugly duckling bit". - San Francisco Chronicle. - November 15, 1996.
- McCarthy, Todd. - Film: "Also Playing: The Mirror Has Two Faces". - Variety. - November 11, 1996.
- Schwarzbaum, Lisa. - Film: "Movie Review: The Way She Is" (1996)". - Entertainment Weekly. - November 22, 1996.
- Kempley, Rita. - Film: "Caution: Objects in 'Mirror' Older Than They Appear". - Washington Post. - November 15, 1996.
- Howe, Desson. - Film: "Streisand Loves a 'Mirror'". - Washington Post. - November 15, 1996.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-05.
- Elber, Lynn (December 20, 1996). "`ENGLISH PATIENT' GETS 7 GLOBE NOMINATIONS". Deseret News. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
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