Friday, June 11, 2021

Tribeca with Abe: Mark, Mary and Some Other People

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections virtually from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which runs June 9th-20th.

Mark, Mary and Some Other People
Directed by Hannah Marks
US Narrative Competition – Screening Information

Two people almost never want exactly the same thing. That’s one of the reasons that a relationship involves compromise and trying to achieve a shared vision of what happiness looks like. There may be times where those two ideals are closer to each other than they are far apart, and that won’t necessarily remain consistent or stable for the course of a relationship. If they are too incompatible, it may not be possible for continue, though the willingness of both parties to work through an impasse and try to find a solution, under some circumstances, can stave off a potential breakup.

Mark (Ben Rosenfield) and Mary (Hayley Law) reconnect in a drug store after meeting in college and get married within a year. Things are going smoothly, but Mary realizes that she may be interested in “ethical non-monogamy,” suggesting that she and Mark set up ground rules for an open relationship in which they both see each other people. Though Mark is initially resistant to the idea, he warms to it as he sees that Mary needs to explore this, and the two begin a series of confrontations designed to strengthen the bond they have but which will inevitably present obstacles to the stability of that connection.

The complexity of adding another member into a two-person dynamic has been explored many times in film and television in projects like “The Freebie” and “You Me Her.” As tends to be the case, it’s a suggestion that comes from only one half of the couple, which of course previews difficulty later when it takes an unexpected course from which there is no easy return. Fortunately, this foray into the subject is more than worthwhile, in part because Mark and Mary are established as an intensely interesting and entertaining couple long before Mary’s game changer is ever formulated.

The success of this film is due in large part to the vibrant, inviting nature of the performances from Rosenfield and Law, whose casual vibes work wonders opposite each other. The supporting cast of friends who comment on and judge their decisions is also great, and writer-director Hannah Marks, herself an actress from terrific projects such as “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency,” knows how to utilize them all best. This film is funny, romantic, frustrating, and altogether immensely enjoyable, revisiting a topic that’s been showcased in the past, but rarely in such a fantastic and effective way.


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