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Mark, Mary & Some Other People ★★★★



Director: Hannah Marks

Cast: Ben Rosenfield, Hayley Law, Odessa Alzion, Nik Dodam, Matt Shively, Sofia Bryant

Released: Tribeca Film Festival 2021

Mary and Mark are two disparate individuals, but somehow their non-conformist personalities complement each other in this charming unconventional, romantic comedy. Far from having a traditional meet-cute, Mark and Mary bond in a pharmacy whilst Mary is buying a pregnancy test in a moment of foreshadowing. Mark, Mary & Other People adopts a witty outlook towards their whirlwind relationship, the phrase ‘marry in haste, repent at leisure’ springs to mind.  The impact of polyamory, otherwise known as ‘ethical non-monogamy’, is also presented as a test of their relationship’s foundation. The film is an intriguing snapshot into the lives of this dynamic couple with excellent performances from Ben Rosenfield and Hayley Law.

The chemistry between Rosenfield as Mark and Law as Mary is delightful to observe as they engage in witty repartee. However, the film swiftly introduces other dynamics highlighting the fearsome commitment aspects of marriage. Ideally, it would have been preferable to spend more time in the happy dynamics of Mark and Mary discovering each other’s traits as a married couple. However, within Mark and Mary’s microcosm, there seems to be that unfortunate lurch from one problem to another with that sense of FOMO (fear of missing out), making its presence heavily known. For Mary, being married and monogamous epitomises ‘adult’ life which invokes a degree of inertia. Her suggestion of polyamory, with rules, seems to be a distraction; however, the audience is likely to predict an unsatisfactory outcome. These types of scenarios never bode well within films.

At first, this is evident in the uncomfortably casual way Mark hints at Mary’s promiscuity due to her suggestion, which merely highlights the existing double standards against women. Indeed, the film invests more time exploring the couple’s journey within this unconventional structure, which initially assists as a novelty for the couple, than it does in Mark and Mary as a contented couple, which is unfortunate. However, the danger of these types of set-ups is when a couple’s goals no longer align, and the psychological insecurities manifest themselves. Director Hannah Marks impressively sets the film’s tone for examining these human needs via Mark and Mary and our true desires. Mark and Mary, at various stages, remark, how can one know what they want before they know that they want it. This amusing exploration of oneself captivates throughout Mark, Mary & Other People as we learn more about them through their various sexual antics.

The film belies its light, superficial structure as it reflects whether honesty is always the best policy and whether we can truly be our authentic selves within relationships.  In many ways, Mark and Mary seem mismatched, but there is an earnestness about them in their quest that will keep audiences rooting for them despite their potential flaws and doomed scenarios. Marks has crafted an engrossing comedy with impeccable timing providing a sympathetic analysis of human behaviour and conformity. Under Marks’ skilful direction, both the advantages and consequences of polyamory are explored evenly within a non-judgemental perspective.

Mark, Mary & Other People comes full circle and, in so doing, highlights those pitfalls of not simply being present in relationships and taking aspects of our lives for granted. Marks’ fresh approach to the traditional rom-com is invigorating and relies heavily on the dynamics of the two leads who deliver a believable experience of mid-twenties marital pressures. Fortunately, the film eschews the well-established tropes within the genre to provide a thought-provoking insight into the concept of monogamy without pontificating, and the film is a fun watch overall.

Mark, Mary & Other People blends its dry humour with pathos and regret in its statement on modern-day relationships. With its standout performances, the film reminds us that the grass is not always greener on the other side and that contrary to popular belief, we may not always act in our own best interests.

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