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The Mirror has Two Faces

This 1996 romance, starring Barbra Streisand, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Lauren Bacall and Mimi Rogers, explores the complex relationship between romantic love and sexuality in the lives of two couples. Refusing to offer facile answers, it suggests that relationships based primarily on physical attraction are prone to eventual failure, whereas those based on true respect and deep affection find greater fulfillment through the physical expression of higher emotions.


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Plot Summary

The Mirror Has Two Faces is a 1996 American romantic drama produced and directed by Barbra Streisand, who also stars as Rose Morgan (Streisand). Rose is a shy, plain, middle-aged English literature professor at Columbia University, who shares a home with her vain, overbearing, widowed mother. When her attractive sister Claire marries Alex (Pierce Bronson), a man Rose has secretly been in love with for years, the emptiness in Rose’s life becomes difficult to bear. Soon afterwards, Rose becomes friends with Gregory Larkin (Jeff Bridges), a mathematics professor who is trying to break free from a long chain of sexual relationships which never lead to meaningful human intimacy.

Gregory is seeking a platonic relationship with a physically unattractive woman to eliminate the complications that sex raises. He is attracted by Rose’s wit, intelligence, natural humor and good values. Rose finds him pleasant company and a good companion. Eventually they marry on the understanding that sex will have little or no place in their relationship. Although Rose secretly longs for a total relationship, she decides to play by his rules. Over time they develop deep respect, appreciation and affection for one another. Gregory is delighted but Rose is increasingly frustrated. When Greg refuses to sleep with her for fear of spoiling their relationship, she feels rejected, leaves him and embarks on a crash course in beautification, fashion and fitness. Greg returns from a tour to find a sexually alluring woman waiting for him. He feels betrayed and wants the old homely Rose back, whom he can love for her mind and heart, rather than lust after for her body. Finally he confesses to Rose that he cannot live without her and agrees to accept sex as a natural part of their truly romantic relationship.

The relationship between Rose and Greg is in sharp contrast to that between Claire and Alex. Like her mother, Claire considers physical beauty was her greatest asset and uses it to snare handsome, gallant Alex into a marriage. Once having caught him, she starts pursuing younger men to reinforce her sense of being attractive. The more affection Alex expresses, the less satisfied Claire becomes. Finally she leaves Alex for someone else, who surely will not be the last in a series of failed relationships based on physical attraction. When Claire rejects him, Alex seeks out Rose and wants to make love with her. Only then does Rose realize that her physical attraction for Alex was not real love. The story is fanciful, but the issues it raises are real enough and the truth it expresses carries a message for all those who long for true and lasting romance .

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Directed by Barbra Streisand
Written by André Cayatte
Starring Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges                                                                                       
Copyright belongs to TriStar Pictures


External Links

  • Visit Life in Movies for original analysis of human nature and the character of life in other movies.
  • Wikipedia provides the plot summary, background, publication history and extensive links to sites on the movie, the cast and producers.
  • The Internet Movie Database, IMDB has information related to the movie and its actors.
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