Barbara Streisand demonstrates another layer of maturity as a director in The Mirror Has Two Faces. The ambiance is richly detailed with the various settings woven together with differences enhancing the whole rather than of detracting from it. An example being the stark difference between the calculus lecture room and the sumptuous restaurants and bars.
The stars of The Mirror Has Two Faces are two professors at Columbia University, the English Literature professor Rose Morgan (Barbara Streisand) and the Calculus professor Gregory Larkin (Jeff Bridges). In a lovely role reversal, Pierce Brosnan puts in a few appearances, mostly chasing his new and bad-spirited wife, as the anti-hero Alex. Hollywood's immortal Lauren Bacall is the villain, who has a redemptive moment at the end of the movie, Hannah Morgan, Rose's mother.
Rose has always believed herself to be completely unattractive and has thus behaved and dressed as if this were true. Gregory falls to pieces when he is around an attractive and desirable woman, which has serious ramifications for his teaching work and productivity as a writer; he writes erudite books about prime numbers. In a desperate try for a relationship with a woman that allows him to continuing functioning as a normal human being, he puts out a personals ad for a companion. Rose's sister Claire, bad dispositioned wife of Alex, answers the ad on Rose's behalf.
After a very engaging part of the movie, Gregory proposes a marriage of companionship to Rose, who, being in love with him, gladly accepts. The glitch comes on the eve of Gregory's European speaking tour when Rose has a now-or-never feeling and suggests that they alter the companion status and consummate their marriage. Gregory freaks. Rose leaves. Gregory phones her repeatedly from all over Europe but can never reach her to speak to her. This is because Rose is at the gym night and day working out or jogging. Enter a new Rose. The initiating impetus for Rose's about face is that her mother, in a brilliant moment of self-discovery confesses things to Rose and shows her one of her previously overlooked baby photos. Herein enters the meaning of the title: Rose was a pretty baby (The Mirror Has Two Faces: the expectation of unloveliness and the past real loveliness).
Aside from the very end scene, which for some reason lacks conviction, The Mirror Has Two Faces lives up to the standard set by the presence of such a collection of great stars. Rent it or buy it for your collection but, one way or another, do see it or see it again.
The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)
Barbara Streisand - Director
Andre Cayatte and Gerard Oury - Screenplay Writers
Barbara Streisand - Rose Morgan
Jeff Bridges - Gregory Larkin
Lauren Bacall - Hannah Morgan
Pierce Brosnan - Alex
George Segal - Henry Fine
Mimi Rogers - ill-dispositioned Claire
[The Mirror Has Two Faces reviewed on DVD from Reviewer's private collection.]