Review by Tres
I wanted to take a look at a movie that I mentioned when the lovely Lauren Bacall passed: The Mirror Has Two Faces.
It’s an older movie, true. 1996
The actors aren’t ones we see in lead roles much anymore. Barbara Streisand, Jeff Bridges, Lauren Bacall, and Mimi Rogers.
It’s not a big budget film: budget was only 42 million (gulp).
It’s wasn’t a blockbuster success: opening weekend gross $12.2 million.
HOWEVER, the movie endures and continues to be rented and purchased throughout the world; literally translated into many languages. What causes it to continue to be an active buy and viewed movie after nearly 20 years?
This movie connects to a great deal of people and speaks to the human heart from many facets.
English professor Rose Morgan (Streisand) is at Columbia and loves the idea of love, how it makes you feel, the emotional connections it creates, and what it can be all about.
However, she has little to no success in love, romance, or emotional connections; never married. She doesn’t wear make-up. She doesn’t work out. “Taking care of herself” is not a priority. She is intelligent and she doesn’t hold that back. On top of this, as an adult, she lives with her mother (Bacall). She longs for a connection of the mind, but especially the heart. With that not working, she often turns to eating, which her eating habits bring humor to the movie itself by presenting us with the perfect bite.
Bacall does a fabulous job in as the wealthy, glamorous, and attention loving Hannah Morgan. She doesn’t go out without making herself up to gain notice from others. She shows up to her other daughter’s (Mimi Rogers) wedding (3rd wedding) intentionally trying to gain notice in her beauty. She struggles to connect with Rose, her daughter that is seemingly detached from her world of make-up, clothes, and style. She is constantly on her about her appearance and her dating and prods her to change both.
Math professor Gregory Larkin (Bridges) prides himself with his intelligence and forward thinking. He analyzes every situation and mathematically decides on actions in his life. He is speaking in a presentation tour when he decides that sex has ruined him after spotting a former lover in the crowd. Any time a former lover is present, he loses thought, he loses logical thinking, he loses self-control. Thus he comes up with a mathematical plan for happy life and career. He will find an ugly wife. He will choose a wife that has zero sex-appeal. He longs for a connection of the mind and believes the heart is controlled by the mind, so mathematically, the connection of the mind will also be a connection of the heart, and thus equal happiness. If Mind = Heart and Heart = Love, then Mind = Love also.
This movie is one of my favorites. I didn’t see it in 1996 when it was first released. It wasn’t until early 1999 that I rented it with my fiancé and watched it. We both fell in love with it. It’s the movies theme song, “I’ve Finally Found Someone”, that became our wedding song.
This movie works well together. The actors blend together and make such impacting statements and moments throughout the film. Each plays a vital part and it all comes together beautifully. It’s a romantic comedy that touches the heart and makes you laugh.
Rose finds out that her mirror can indeed have 2 faces that she is happy with; her exterior one and her internal one. Larking finds out that the mind doesn’t equal love. Hannah finds her daughter and the love she’s always had for her, but kept buried and protected.
If you want the original version of the story, you have to travel back to 1843. Hans Christian Anderson wrote the original script for this movie and published it in a book of short tales. He titled it, The Ugly Duckling.
It’s this basis that I struggle with in the movie. The idea of “ugly” and “pretty” or even “presentable” plagues our country. The stereotypes and imagery that the social world tells us is or isn’t pretty is so not real it drives me crazy. Seldom do I pick up a magazine anymore, simply because I’m tired of seeing size 0-2 women trying to sell me things or 1% body fat guys trying to convince me what’s best. It’s a non-real image of what the world is in America and around the world.
The second aspect that I struggle with is the idea of sex being a casual thing that just belongs anywhere. Larkin’s problem isn’t sex and the reactions it seems to cause in him coming across a former lover. The true issue is that his choice to have sex with multiple partners connects to one of the areas that separates us from the local cats and dogs in our neighbor that breed/mate with each other in all different combinations of partners. Man has a soul. Man has a conscience. Society often tries to convince us that sex is natural and animalistic. True, it is. You can go by almost any live-stock field in our area and see animals doing it. However, we aren’t just an animal in a field; we are made in the image of God.
What I do like about the “Ugly Duckling” transformation that Rose goes through is that she finds enjoyment in exercising, she finds that she feels better about herself, and she focuses on being happy with herself. Every woman, and man in that case, should be happy with who they are inside and out. Being well is important. Wellness encompasses the physical and the emotional side of man.
God tells us about the differences between man and woman when he commands a man to love his wife and for a wife to respect her husband. (Eph 5) He made us differently from one another. But he made us to be together: a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. (Mark 10: 6&7) Figuring out what our spouse needs to be happy is our job, challenge, and something only we are entrusted with. We are to take pleasure in it and in each other. What this movie is about is a couple figuring out how to get away from what the world tries to convince us is important and how to find our happiness in each other while meeting the needs of the other as well. (1Cor 7)
I give this movie a 5 star and ranks as one of my favorite romantic comedies.
A nod to Bacall: one of my favorite scenes in this movie is when Bacall is looking at a baby picture of this perfect child that she brought into the world decades before. Rose assumes the picture is of her sister Claire. Hannah tells her, that it’s actually her. That she was a beautiful baby and that she’s still beautiful today. It’s a scene that Bacall delivers with elegance, grace, and tenderness in a way that only she could sell.