The Mirror Has Two Faces

mirror has two facesIt’s been a very long time since I last watched a love story that creates an ‘umph’ effect on me – something which when you think about it, makes you smile and want to watch it over and over again. Last night, my sister and I decided that we’re going to watch an old movie online – not the classic ones but some 80’s or 90’s feel-good-comedy-romantic type of movies. The first thing that popped into my head was the movie called, “The Mirror has Two Faces”. I haven’t watched it before, although I heard from a lot of people that it was a very nice movie. So, we flicked through the online movies and luckily, it’s there!

If you are a moviegoer and one of the criteria you look for in a movie is whether the characters are physically attractive or not, well, you’re never gonna get it from this one. What I really like about the movie is the fact that the characters weren’t really that ‘pretty’ at all! What is even more interesting is that the movie revolves around the idea of SEX without really having to portray it in the story. Directed by Barbra Streisand, The Mirror Has Two Faces is a touching romantic comedy that explores the modern myths of beauty and sex and how they complicate relationships.

To give you a brief background of the movie, here’s a synopsis I took from (because I’m too lazy to think and type):

Rose Morgan (Barbra Streisand) teaches a course in Romantic Literature at Columbia University, but doesn’t have any romance in her own life. Passion is something she desperately longs for.

Gregory Larkin (Jeff Bridges), who teaches mathematics at the same university, has been hurt by passionate relationships and longs for a sexless union based on friendship and respect with someone he’s not sexually attracted to.

While Rose is resigned to life’s short change, Greg decides to fight his plight and seek the impossible. The mathematics genius places an ad that reads, “Columbia University professor (male) seeks a woman interested in common goals and companionship. Must have Ph.D. and be over thirty-five. Physical appearance not important.” Through an act of deception typical of Rose’s near-amoral sister, Greg and Rose meet. They are decidedly different in virtually every way, but find one another deliriously compelling. Rebelling against customary modern pressures, they come together on comfortable, if shaky, common ground. They form an unorthodox marital arrangement in which intellectual passion supplants sexual heat.

The contract has an air of nobility, yet it negates some basic human needs. They will come to learn that two people who meet, marry and remain celibate are courting confusion and chaos -especially if one of them undergoes a major change that messes up their carefully concocted equation.

My favourite scene from the movie is when Rose Morgan was giving a discussion to her students about LOVE. There is just so many truths about what she said and a lot of people (including myself) could actually relate to it. This scene is one of those deal breakers for starters. Although, I would still recommend that you watch the entire movie as there are just so many cute scenes that will really make you laugh and giggle. Here’s my favorite:

(Rose Morgan speaking to her class)

“So this is the scene of my sister’s wedding. There she is, getting drunk, regretting she ever got married—for the third time, mind you. My mother’s so jealous she’s sprouting snakes from her hair, and I’m thinking: this is perfect. We’ve got three feminine archetypes here: the divine whore (excuse me), Medusa, and me. Who am I, what archetype? Trevor?”

“Virgin Mary?”

“Thanks a lot, Trevor! No; the faithful handmaiden. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. It does prove, however, what Young (?) said all along that myths and archetypes are alive and well—and living in my apartment.

As I stood at the altar beside my sister and her husband to be, it struck me that this ritual called a wedding ceremony is really just the final scene of a fairy tale. They never tell you what happens after. The never tell you that Cinderella drove the Prince crazy with her obsessive need to clean the castle (cause she missed her day job, right?). No, they don’t tell us what happens after because…there is no after. The be-all and end-all of romantic love was… Mike?”

“Uh, sex?”

“(laughter) Mike! Sex on the brain Mike! (calls another) Yes?” 


“Marriage, that’s right. But it wasn’t always like that. Around the 12th century there was a notion called courtly love where love had nothing to do with marriage and nothing to do with sex. In most cases it was defined as a passionate relationship between a knight and a lady of the court who was already married; and so they could never consummate their love.

In this way they would have to rise above your ordinary, you know, going to the bathroom in front of each other kind of love, and they would go after something more divine. They took sex out of the equation and what was left was a union of souls. Now think of this: sex was always the fatal love potion. Look at the literature of the time: Lancelot and Guinevere, Tristan and Isolde. All consummation could lead to was madness, despair or death! Clinical experts, scholars and my Aunt Esther are united in the belief that true love has spiritual dimensions, while romantic love is nothing but a lie, an illusion. A modern myth. A soulless manipulation.

Speaking of manipulation, it’s like going to the movies and we see the lovers on screen kiss, and the music swells, and we buy it, right? So when my date takes me home and kisses me goodnight, if I don’t hear the philharmonic in my head, I dump him!

Now the question is: Why do we buy it?

We buy it because whether it’s a myth or a manipulation, let’s face it: we all want to fall in love. Why? Because that experience makes us feel completely alive! Where every sense is heightened, every emotions magnified, where our everyday reality is shattered, flung into the heavens! It may only last a moment, an hour, an afternoon… but it doesn’t diminish its value. Because we’re left with memories that we treasure for the rest of our lives. 

I read an article a while ago that says when we fall in love we hear Puccini in our heads. I love that. I think it’s because his music fully expresses our longing for passion in our lives and romantic love. And while we listen to La Boheme or Torindo (?) or reading Wuthering Heights or watching Casa Blanca, a little bit of that love lives in us too. So the final question is: Why do people want to fall in love? When it can have such short shelf life and be devastatingly painful, what do you think? Stacey?”

“It leads to the propagation of the species?” “Hmmm… Ren?”

“Psychologically, we need to connect to somebody.” “Could be. Jill?”

“Because we’re culturally preconditioned?”

“Good answers, but much too intellectual for me. I think it’s because, as some of you already may know… while it does last, it feels ******** great!” 

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