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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 climax.
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.
Let me just say that despite mixed reviews and public jesting, if it weren't Barbra Streisand that made this movie and it were someone else, no one would make fun of it like they do. Everyone just likes to pick on Barbra. But this movie is actually good! This film, about a man (Jeff Bridges) who goes looking for a nonsexual relationship and finds it with a middle-aged dateless professor (Barbra Streisand). As the two leads, these actors shine immensely! Mimi Rogers and Brenda Vaccaro are equally good in their supporting and often comic roles, as is George Segal. But the star of this movie, I must say, is Lauren Bacall as Streisand's beautifully aging mother. Bacall, who is not really known for her comedy roles, took the role and ran with it, making her character hilarious at times, heart-pouring at others. She is terrific! As for the actual storyline of the movie, it is somewhat predictable in its final outcome, but the routes it takes along the way are always interesting. The music is terrific; who doesn't like Luciano Pavarotti's "Nessun Dorma"? A very delightful romantic comedy!
The mirror has two faces: Barbra Streisand and ... surprise! ... Barbra
Streisand! More explicit: the funny Barbra Streisand and the divine Barbra
Streisand. Well, this miraculous metamorphosis is of course kind of
disgusting and I wouldn't be the first person to argue that Barbra Streisand
has a tendency to fancy herself pretty much (and I myself was already able
to tell so from the unnecessarily long ending of "The Prince of Tides" - a
very good movie). But as annoying as it may sometimes be, this is an
extremely well-done and multi-faceted movie. Let me try to tell you, why I
It starts rather mediocre when Streisand and Jeff Bridges get to know each other, talk some silly stuff and behave like little children. From time to time it gives a number of very good lines to Lauren Bacall, who is perfect as Streisand's mother. By the time Streisand and Bridges get married you are tempted to say: "Yes, very nice, but it's crap actually, isn't it?" But you won't think of saying that in the end.
The movie is a romantic comedy - containing a couple of cliches, fine - but with a new, non-cliche structure. This is no kitsch, not at all, oh no! Instead, it's made up of very good lines and very truthful moments. These are connected in a way that makes our emotion rise but leaves us unable to tell which words, which gestures made it rise. How come? The romance doesn't develop in the way we would expect it and have seen it many times before, no, this romantic comedy goes the long way round: First there is only a small deal of attraction, then there is previously unknown disillusionment - a black hole almost - and then love enters the stage. The final romantic scene fits into romantic comedy conventions, but it also fits into the picture and Streisand and Bridges deserve it. What a wonderful movie!
Basically Barbra Streisand is a good actress, but she loves exaggerating. She is able to manage difficult scenes, but she tries to be funny where being funny can't work and sometimes she's just hopping through the scene like a twittering sparrow instead of performing the emotions required for that scene. And after her metamorphosis she's more interested in her make-up than in her character.
Lauren Bacall plays a mean, self-addicted and vain old beast with a heart and a vulnerable soul. The scene where mother and daughter talk openly in the kitchen is wonderful. Even Pierce Brosnan is better than I would have expected.
Finally, the movie shows us the great versatility of Jeff Bridges: you've never seen him so very soft before (rude as he was in "The Fabulous Baker Boys", cool in "Nadine" or smooth and evil in "Jagged Edge"). However, he is exaggerating, too: which man can act this untruthful and affected?! In the scenes from Streisand's and his marriage his character is almost eerie - may this be good or bad for the movie...
The Mirror Has Two Faces is one of Barbra's finest works.
In this movie you have two people,(Barbra and Jeff Bridges),who are both
weary and skeptical about "true" love, but both have different outlooks on
Barbra is optimistic and hopeful, while Jeff Bridges feels that the only way
to make a relationship last is to completely take the sex out of it and have
a loving friendship only,(one based strictly on companionship).
The movie explores both of the main characters inner fears and inner
struggles in a way that, not unless you're not human, you can certainly
For instance: In reality, Barbra's character felt inwardly about herself
that she wasn't good enough....wasn't attractive enough. She liked the idea
of marrying Jeff Bridges character under the premise of strictly a loving
companionship only because her character feels...well, my goodness! Here's
a really handsome man that really likes me and likes being with me. He wants
to take sex out of the equation, but...that's okay. It's NOT what I really
want, but I'll "SETTLE".
On the other hand, Jeff Bridges character, Gregory, feels that with all his
failed relationships of the past, that if he takes sex out of the picture,
that maybe, just maybe, it'll last. He wants a true, loving, one on one
relationship with another woman but he really doesn't want to have it be
without physical love either. But...out of fear that it wont last, he
decides that he's got to take the physical part out of it, even though deep
down inside, he doesn't really want that. So...he "SETTLES" as
In reality, they have both truly fallen in love with each other, but both
are trying to abide by what they both agreed to; a loving friendship only,
with absolutely no physical love.
This creates many, many tense situations between them that end up creating
very funny scenes and lines.
Theres a scene right after they get married and the two of them are in their
home, all done for the day unpacking and getting settled. Jeff Bridge's
character says to Barbra's..."So! What do you want to do
Barbra, innocently meaning to suggest they both go to sleep, shrugs her
shoulders and says..."Go to bed".
Jeff's eyes get all nervous looking and he starts having difficulty
breathing. Barbra's character replies..."No! I mean, to sleep, that is! One
goes to bed...to sleep!"
A little later on she is unloading all this frustration and tension to her
sister Claire in a phone conversation. She says..."I don't know how to ask
for it Claire!" Meaning sex. She continues to say..."Sometimes we're so
"polite" to each other I feel like we're two roommates living in a charm
Her sister replies..."Just give him a "look" that makes him "know" you want
Barbra's character then replies..."I tried that once. He thought I had
something in my eye!"
Yes indeed, there are many great moments in this film.
In the end, what's great is that both of the characters understand that what
they did was "settle", and "settling", especially with something as
important as true love is never a good idea. But more importantly, they
learn that in the end, anything truly worthwhile, sometimes you have to take
Unless you are really that jaded, you can not leave this movie by it's end
without feeling,(even if just a little),good!
The supporting cast is great, including Lauren Bacall, Brenda Vacaro and
A wonderful film. Truly one of Barbra's finest.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I know other people think highly of Streisand's skills as a singer and
an actress, and I understand their reasons for feeling that way. In
fact, I agree she was excellent in "Hello Dolly", "What's Up, Doc?" and
"Funny Girl", I agree that she can belt out a Broadway show tune with
the best of them, and I agree that she has enormous charisma.
But I am not a member of the Streisand-As-Diva Fan Club. As great as her talents are, her taste sucks, and she consistently overestimates and overreaches her talents in pursuit of really cheesy and juvenile self gratification. So we get misfires like "Yentl" (which Isaac Bashevis Singer hated), and we also get bloated exercises in ego,like her remake of "A Star Is Born", "The Prince Of Tides", "Nuts", and this piece of fish-wrap.
The problem with this movie isn't in her performance, which is good in the service of the script. The problem is in the writing, and it's the same problem with every other recent Streisand film: she wants to be viewed as some kind of beauty queen and sexual powerhouse, and apparently she also wants to be seen as 20-30 years younger than she actually is. But with her face and features, that just isn't going to happen. Well, if your definition of sexual powerhouse includes overwhelming belief in and seriousness about your talents (ie, Diva-like self-importance), maybe she could skate by there. But no one will ever include her in a Playboy calendar or a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Accept it, Barbra, and move on.
But the goldarn movie just won't let it rest. In every scene, even the ones where Streisand is supposed to be a dowdy ugly duckling, her skin is perfect, her makeup is perfect, the lighting on her is perfect, and her every line and delivery is calculated to frame her in the most sympathetic and flattering way possible. In every scene she's in (and Streisand is front and center 90% of the time), Streisand the director is shoving herself in the viewers' face, saying "Aren't I sexy? Aren't I precious? Aren't I actually the most winsome, lovable, attractive young thing you ever saw, even if the script says I can't get a man - yet?'
As Joe Queenan puts it, her entire 'transformation' from ugly duckling to desirable goddess "consists of losing six ounces, getting a frizzy poodle haircut, and buying a cheap dress." She looks exactly the same as before, only now Jeff Bridges' character is supposed to be stunned by her desirability and beg to take her back. And let's face it, even in the persona of a nerd math professor, Jeff is still one of the sexiest leading men of the last two decades. So this is about on the same level as me fantasizing about Dominique Swain begging me to take her back after I buy some new suits and lose an inch off my waist on a low carb diet.
And in response to Jeff begging to get back together, Streisand the director has Streisand the actress deliver an "I desired you once, but now I've moved beyond you" oration that is a patent by-the-numbers REVENGE fantasy put down; it's the speech composed in the fantasies of any girl who was ever dumped by any boy in the history of romance. Hell, it's not a speech, it's a bumper sticker. And it is delivered with such relish that you can literally see Barbra getting her own back from every unhappy romance or unrequited longing she ever felt. It is completely self indulgent and has a stale musty aura of intellectual and emotional self-diddling. IMO, this is supposed to be the emotional climax of the film, but it's got the maturity of an old "Virginia Slims" commercial.
On the positive side, this is an 'A' level production, with great sets and costumes, good performances from Lauren Bacall and Mimi Rogers, and even a few funny lines. And Barbra sounds great on the sound track singing the title piece.
Note to Barbra Streisand: You are one of the most admired and respected singers and actresses in the world. You have millions of dollars and unlimited license to undertake any recording project you want. You even look pretty good in a middle-aged-dynamic-businesswoman kind of way. You've won. Please, please, stop scoring easy points in self-indulgent movie fantasies about how gorgeous and young you are.
This film is my favorite film because I love Barbra's talent and
charisma! The film has major heavy hitters. I knew everyone in the cast!
Even Lauren Bacall was in this ! I thought Babs looked better at the
beginning than in the end. I couldn't function through the week if I didn't
see this film ! I ain't kidding. The movies beginning got off to a good
start and continued to develop interest. I recommend this film to anyone who
is a fan of Babs and hasn't seen it. Even though the critics hated the film
it still was fun and sort of like Cinderella in ways. Great Soundtrack! Lots
of great moments and see it around Thanksgiving time, I did and I loved it
The Mirror Has Two Faces is one of those old fashioned romance stories,
in which Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges prove that love can be had
in middle age and romance might even be better at that point.
Both Streisand and Bridges are a pair of Columbia University professors, she of English, him of Mathematics. They've come to opposite conclusions about life and love. Barbra wants some love in her life, but Bridges having been burned a little too often in relationships is swearing off sex.
I like what director Streisand did with Bridges's character. I can identify with the students in his class, you spell it B-O-R-I-N-G. There are some people who are turned on by math, I'm not one of them. I sat through too many teachers who could not pique my interest in the slightest and many who were like Bridges as Barbra describes him, having his own math party at the blackboard. No one ever made it relevant for me in my academic career.
Barbra didn't do too bad with the rest of the cast which includes her mother Lauren Bacall, her sister Mimi Rogers, her wolfish brother-in-law Pierce Brosnan, best friend Brenda Vaccaro, and Bridges best friend George Segal who is a cheerful middle aged hedonist and loving every minute of it.
Lauren Bacall got her one Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress and I thought sure she would cap her career with that Oscar. She lost to Juliette Binoche for The English Patient. But Bacall is absolutely stunning as the mother who Barbra convinces that her life isn't over either.
For the acclaim it got, The Mirror Has Two Faces should have gotten a lot more, including a Best Director nomination for Barbra Streisand. And this review is dedicated to all of us who had to sit through a boring professor having his own private math party at the blackboard.
For all those people out there who are thinking 'how could a movie
directed by and starring Barbra Streisand be good?' please leave your
preconceptions at the door! This film, in my opinion, is a thoroughly
enjoyable and delightful romantic comedy.
Babs stars as Rose, a Professor of Literature at Columbia University in New York who is basically, desperate and dateless. Jeff Bridges (in a humorous and charming performance) plays Professor Gregory Larkin, a man who is constantly losing his mind over unobtainable women. In his frustration and belief that "sexual attraction ruins all relationships", he decides to place an ad in the paper for a female companion, "appearance unimportant". When Rose's sister (Mimi Rogers) answers the ad on her behalf, the 2 begin a relationship that eventually reveals what love is really all about.
This film is funny, moving and romantic. My husband really doesn't really enjoy it, which could indicate the average male's perspective, but I'd highly recommend it for someone looking for a soppy night in!
This mediocre romance was Barbra Streisand's announcement to the world
that middle-aged people can fall in love too.
O.k., fair enough, I don't begrudge her the sentiment, but the film she made to express it is all soft. It exists mostly as a vanity project for Streisand, who goes from frump to glamour puss over the course of its two-hour running time. Jeff Bridges is always winning and likable, and so he is here as Streisand's love interest. His presence is almost enough to make up for the tired and generic theme song.
The film is probably most famous for NOT bringing Lauren Bacall a much-anticipated Oscar, which went instead to Juliette Binoche in one of the biggest upsets in recent memory.
OK. If you accept this movie for what it is, it's actually pretty entertaining. It's a Cinderella story for middle-aged folks. I won't recap the film. That's not my job. I'm here only to give you my impressions on the watchability and impact of this movie. If you love Barbra Streisand (and I do) and you love Jeff Bridges (and I do), you will love this romantic comedy. Both are at their funny, witty, comedic best in this film. Mimi Rogers is gorgeous as Bab's sister. (Oddly, Netflix has her mistakenly identified as Fran Drescher on its website.) Lauren Bacall is stunningly beautiful - still. Overall, the film has a lot of heart. What I love about Streisand is that she knows her weaknesses and her strengths, and plays both up to much effect in this film, which she directed and, I believe, co-wrote. This is a quintessential "chick flick," the kind you enjoy on a raining Sunday night with a big bowl of popcorn. If you are in just the right mood for a film that shamelessly exploits your feelings about romance, this one is it. Enjoy.
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