TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! I’m coming around to the talent that is Hannah Marks. She has a way of choosing roles and finding unique and subtle twists to raise her characters above the stereotypical (check out Banana Split, After Everything, and even her Law & Order appearance). Mark, Mary & Some Other People marks Marks’ feature film debut as writer/director and brings her unique and subtle twists to the subject of open relationships.
Mark (Ben Rosenfield) and Mary (Hayley Law) are college acquaintances whose paths cross at a neighborhood drug store. Mary is a part-time waitress and lead singer of a progressive feminist rock band. Mark works with his dad at a plastics company. Mary is looking for a pregnancy test, and Mark…is not. After an awkward moment when Mark tries to help Mary relax so she can pee, a spark is formed, and the two become an instant couple. In a month, the two are married, which impresses Mark’s nerdy friends.
As time passes, this newly formed marriage appears to be happy and fulfilling for both…which makes for a boring story. During a conversation with Mary’s bandmate, a seed is planted in her mind. She asks Mark if he’s interested in opening up their relationship to other partners—you know, an open marriage. Mark freaks out big time, and an argument ensues as Mark questions their relationship. As the pair heads out to a nightclub with friends, Mark meets another woman, and he’s in.
“She asks Mark if he’s interested in opening up their relationship to other partners…”
Mark is now open to the idea of an open relationship, and the two begin establishing “rules” of conduct. No more than four encounters with a single person, always use protection, and no oral pleasuring (“that’s our thing!”). The film and story progress exploring the quirks of this progressive relationship, talking about recent encounters, jealousy, threesomes, and STDs.
As a comedy, Mark, Mary & Some Other People keeps the laughs light and the story grounded. Writer/director Marks refuses to turn her tale into a slapstick, raunchy sex comedy. The comedy and conflict are derived solely from the mismatched relationship between Mark and Mary. The glue and sweetness of this relationship is the undeniable love the two have for each other, and it’s the testing of this love that is the film’s central theme.
The only weakness I found in the film is the first two acts are predictably unpredictable. By that, I mean that story-wise, what one would expect to happen in an open marriage story doesn’t happen and to the point where you predict what would happen because you know it’s not going to happen (confused). The first example is when Mary brings up the idea of the open marriage, and Mark protests because he thinks Mary will be the only one getting…well. Of course, Mark will be the first one to consummate the first encounter. Then, guess who is the first to question if their scheme was a good idea in the first place. There are two or three more moments when I thought, “that happened because it wouldn’t happen” in traditional standard stories. Now, I’m confused.
Mark, Mary & Some Other People does not attempt to judge the idea of open marriages but does put the concept to the test in straightforward ways. Why the film works is its lead actors Ben Rosenfield and Hayley Law. From the start, Mark and Mary feels like an odd pairing put together for comedy sake, but I quickly fell for this relationship. The film just wouldn’t work if Rosenfield and Law (insert lawyer joke) couldn’t make Mark and Mary work.
Mark, Mary & Some Other People screened at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.
"…does not attempt to judge the idea of open marriages..."