The Mirror Has Two FacesNovember 15, 1996
Rose and Gregory, both Columbia University professors meet when Rose's sister answers Gregory's "personals" ad…
Release Year: 1996
Rating: 6.0/10 (7,148 voted)
Stars: Barbra Streisand, Jeff Bridges, Lauren Bacall
Rose and Gregory, both Columbia University professors meet when Rose's sister answers Gregory's "personals" ad. Several times burned, the handsome-but-boring Gregory believes that sex has ruined his life, and has deliberately set out to find and marry a woman with absolutely no sex appeal. Greg thinks he's found what he's looking for in Rose, a plain, plump English Lit professor who can't compete with her gorgeous mother and sister. More out of mutual admiration and respect than love, Greg and Rose marry. Greg assumes that Rose understands that he is not interested in a sexual relationship. He's mistaken, and their marriage is nearly destroyed when Rose tries to consummate their relationship. While Gregory is out of the country on a lecture tour, Rose diets and exercises to transform herself into a sexy siren in a last-ditch attempt to save her marriage.
Writers: André Cayatte, Gérard Oury
First Girl Student
Lucy Avery Brooks
Felicia – Video
There are two things a woman knows: what she's looking for and what she'll settle for.
Release Date: 15 November 1996
Filming Locations: 505 West End Avenue, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $12,210,868
(17 November 1996)
(31 December 1997)
Did You Know?
Harrison Ford was originally approached to play the male lead.
Boom mic visible:
When Greg arrives at "new" Rose's house.
Your hair looks good, the curls work. Why don't you get a perm?
I tried that once, I looked like Shirley Temple on crack.
Mirrors, Puccini, and the triumphant Ugly Duckling
This was the third film directed and starring Barbara Streisand. It did
get a whopping big two Oscar nominations for the best song and for best
supporting actress (Lauren Bacall). Neither won. Ms Streisand hit the
Oscar gold with best actress for FUNNY GIRL, and since then has met
with indifferent success – and almost none with her three directed
This film is a modern spin on Hans Christian Anderson's tale of the
Ugly Duckling. She is the "homely" daughter of Lauren Bacall, a beauty
specialist, and her younger sister Mimi Rogers is also beautiful to
look at. But Mimi has had two unsuccessful marriages, and is seen at
the start having her third marriage – this time to Pierce Brosnan, who
initially showed an interest in Streisand.
Throughout her entire life she has been having a low esteem problem
regarding sex. She is seen breaking dates with Austin Pendleton. We
learn her closest friend is Brenda Vaccaro, who has also failed to do
well with men. Yet she is a highly articulate and intelligent English
professor at Columbia University.
It is Columbia University where the other part of this equation is
found. Jeff Bridges is a leading figure in the math department. He is
finding it difficult to recover from repeated failed sexual
relationships. So he puts an add in the newspaper requesting to meet a
suitable mate. Mimi Rogers notices the ad, and puts in a response for
Streisand. After watching Streisand handle her English class (far
better than Bridges can handle his calculus course), he calls her up
and sets up a date.
Bridges has worked out a perfect solution for his sexual failures. He
will marry a woman he can be chummy with, who is intelligent, and who
will not require a sexual relationship (and who is so plain looking as
not to invite his own sexual responses). Streisand follows this, not
knowing to be insulted or to go along. Finally she agrees to go along
with it, and they get married. But can they maintain this palsy-walsy
pseudo-marriage, or it doomed?
Bacall gave a terrific performance as an apparently bitchy woman, who
likes to show up her younger daughter (even at the latter's wedding),
but who turns out to be more caring and wise than we first suspected.
Brosnan gives a good performance, but it could have used a few filler
scenes to broaden his character's history (we don't know how he and
Streisand first met, nor how Rogers stole him away). Bridges is
wonderful as a variant on the absent minded professor, who can't see
the trees for the forest he wishes to plant. George Segal (who
co-starred with Streisand in THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT two decades
earlier) is good as Bridges' friend who sees too clearly how
wrong-headed the experiment is. Rogers does well as a nymphomaniac who
does not mind marriage as a badge of sexual success, but cannot stand
the actual reason for that institution.
In the end Streisand does triumph – and she does hear Puccini in her
ecstasy (TURANDOT by the way). You see, you are supposed to "hear"
great romantic music – especially Puccini – when achieving sexual
The film's title is a reminder of the whole issue of surface appearance
that bedevils Streisand's ugly duckling (and several other characters
too). It is a reminder of dressing up for dating, of looking attractive
to men, and of the fact that we face ourselves in the mirror – and so
do we face ourselves honestly or lying to ourselves? But watch
carefully – in many scenes Streisand will shoot the scene from the
point of view of the mirror. It becomes an all encompassing theme in
this wonderful film.