I watched The Mirror Has Two Faces on Netflix this weekend. As I sat there on a Saturday morning still in my pajamas with very little motivation to pull myself out of the current slump I was in, I turned this movie on. I’ve seen it before and so I wasn’t going to be caught off guard by anything. Or so I thought.
The general plot of this film ****SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT***** is about a man who seeks a companion without the romantic hassle and a woman who seeks a companion in general. They have all the makings of a great relationship along the way except, no sex. This doesn’t last long as Rose, played by Barbara Streisand, falls in love and wants more. He rejects her and tells her that he doesn’t want that with her. She’s devastated and goes through a complete makeover – dyes her hair blonde, loses weight, starts wearing makeup – tries to become the sex bomb that any man would love to have. In the end, he realizes he loves her and wants to have sex with her but it’s quite the journey to watch these two go through until they finally hear that music playing.
So it begs the question, which is asked at the beginning of the film:
“Why do people want to fall on love when it can have such a short shelf life and be devastatingly painful? “
The class gives your typical answers – to have babies, companionship, cultural preconditioning…..but she responds with “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 fucking great!”
At the root of it, that’s the truth isn’t it? It feels good. There really isn’t a feeling that compares to falling and being in love. It’s like a drug, once you’ve had a taste of it, you just want more. When you’re in a relationship and it fades, it’s devastating. It can become easy to become obsessed with getting that feeling back.
From the looks of things the relationship between Gregory and Rose is good. They have great times together, great conversation, they get along really well and they truly seem to understand each other. But there is no kissing or hugging or sex. That wears on Rose. She yearns for what she cannot have. She finally makes her yearning known, pounces and gets rejected and scolded by him.
So what does Barbara Streisand’s character do after she tries to have sex with him and he rejects her? She assumes that she is not attractive enough. Why? Because he said she wasn’t. He said he chose her BECAUSE he didn’t want to have sex with her believing that if they had no sexual chemistry that they could make a partnership work.
Well we all know that’s a crock of shit. We also know that sex absolutely complicates things as well. Ever tried to have a casual relationship with someone and accidentally develop feelings? Yea it becomes a full on dumpster fire. Feelings complicate things especially when they get hurt. Sometimes those feeling never recover and you end up having to let the relationships go. In this film, he does one of those big declarations of love out in public on the street – this was a classic 90s movie move. She forgives him and they appear to live happily ever after. They were already married after all.
What Surprised Me About the Film
So I mentioned above that I had seen this film before. It held a stronger meaning for me this time around. You see, I’m 35 now. I’m recently out of a breakup that well, didn’t go so well. I feel this societal pressure to be married and have children though I’m not sure that’s even what I’m really concerned about myself but I feel the pressure anyway.
This was made worse by my last partner attacking my looks in the end citing that my looks were the reason why he didn’t touch me anymore. He said that’s probably why former partners left me too because they were no longer attracted to me. That hurt and I realized that I have some insecurities buried down in my subconscious that I didn’t know were there. It’s the first time I’ve actually ever had a man (whom I loved) say that to me and it crushed me a bit, I’l admit.
So this movie where here is this loving man – from all outward appearances seems like a great catch. But deep down he made her feel like she was less than. He made her feel ugly. We discover that her own mother made her feel ugly as well. So this man brought out those insecurities in her. I could really identify with that.
I was teased as a kid and teenager. I had really crooked teeth. Got those fixed and then I was just teased for being flat chested. I wasn’t pretty enough or feminine enough. Then I got into a relationship where I was put down constantly for nearly a decade. It has taken over 10 years to get where I’m at today to be thrust right back into insecurities by another person. What that tells me is that there is just some more work to do internally to heal those past insecurities.
So as I watched Rose work out and change her hair and get makeup – I realized I was doing this same thing. Now in today’s world we call this a “Glow Up”. There’s nothing wrong with a glow up, but I just think it’s really shitty that it happens after someone puts you down like that. But glass half full is that this was the catalyst for her to stop accepting what no longer served her. She was like fuck this shit, I deserve better and he’s either going to step the fuck up or she’s out.
Cue the dinner scene where she reveals her sexy self. She’s at her peak of confidence in this scene. She feels good and she’s confident that her outsides match her insides. He complains and she just leaves.
There is beauty in that – walking away. When someone realizes they deserve better and they can no longer stay. They have to go. Staying just makes what is happening okay and in her eyes, it wasn’t. She wanted to be desired and fucked properly. We all do. I don’t think it’s a lot to ask to have the companionship and the sex. But sometimes it’s a hard thing to find.
She deserved to have someone love her body, heart and soul. Once she realized that for herself she was able to ask for what she wanted. He couldn’t give it to her or wouldn’t give it to her – so she asked for a divorce. Sometimes you have to walk away to know what you want. Fortunately for her, the man she loved saw her worth and value and decided that he would do whatever it takes to keep her. You don’t find women like her often and when you do, you gotta step up. That is what makes this moment beautiful for me.
The movie closes with a grand romantic gesture. We are left with an understanding of love that is the type of love where you do, in fact, hear music play when you kiss. Ok so it’s not entirely realistic but it’s a 90s Rom Com that I absolutely adore. Thank you for sharing in this with me.