Runtime: 90 minutes
Director: Hannah Marks
Writer: Hannah Marks
Actors: Hayley Law, Ben Rosenfield, Nik Dodani, Matt Shively, Sofia Bryant, Kelli Berglund, Esther Povitsky, Joe Lo Truglio, Haley Ramm
By Tom Moore
The latest film from writer/director Hannah Marks, “Mark, Mary & Some Other People” is an interesting exploration into open relationships that can’t exactly fully explore its interesting topic.
Although open relationships aren’t something new and have been a part of romantic connections for decades going under different names (swinging, friends with benefits, non-monogamous), there aren’t that many films that openly explore them. That’s what makes “Mark, Mary & Some Other People” have an instantly unique premise as it delves into the titular young couple, Mark (Ben Rosenfield) and Mary (Hayley Law), exploring the possibility of having an open relationship. Mark and Mary are the definition of falling in love fast and having those instant sparks that instantly connect them. Their fast-paced relationship leads them to getting married at a young age and eventually makes Mary question the idea of making their relationship open.
They’re sort of at this crossroad in their maturity with them moving towards a more adult headspace but not completely wanting to shed their youth. Mary is in a band with her best friends that she hilariously finds new, raunchy names for through conversations with Mark and still seeks her own sense of independence while Mark hasn’t really figured things out for himself and now faces some beratement from his bros about him being married so young. It’s the perfect storm of coming-of-age situations that play well for exploring open relationships and work well with Marks’ comedic writing and direction.
“Law and Rosenfield’s very open and enjoyable chemistry lead to plenty of great exchanges between them and comes with some delightfully awkward moments of romance that just make you love them even more. They carry this youthful energy and realness that makes their exploration of open relationships less provocative and more personal.”
Marks hits her comedic marks well with her writing and creates some hilarious character interactions with her direction. Every time Mark or Mary ends up going to their group of friends, you can expect some good laughs because the chemistry between everyone is so strong, and their friends actually end up playing a larger role in them having an open relationship. Their contributions not only expand on the greater dissection and views of open relationships, but also add in some funny coming of age comedy that are the perfect support to Law and Rosenfield’s excellent performances.
Law and Rosenfield’s very open and enjoyable chemistry lead to plenty of great exchanges between them and comes with some delightfully awkward moments of romance that just make you love them even more. They carry this youthful energy and realness that makes their exploration of open relationships less provocative and more personal. They’re totally committed from start to finish and have great comedic moments of their own that make their performances stand apart perfectly. The real magic is in them coming together though as their chemistry is undeniably warming and they’re just a total blast to watch. Mary’s intense wokeness and Mark not exactly being the most graceful social butterfly don’t make them the most approachable at first, but once they meet and really start to open up, their weirdness meshes in an incredibly loving way that makes them endlessly enjoyable.
Their performances also add to the film’s approach in exploring the tricky dynamics and intricacies of a modern open relationship. The film tackles the basics of what many would expect to be a part of establishing an open relationship. There are rules established for comfortability, discussions between them and their friends about their feelings on their relationship, and a very fast-paced montage of the two of them having sex with a ton of different people. However, there are more personal aspects brought into this exploration through Mark and Mary’s unique relationship. For instance, it’s interesting that Mary’s bisexuality not only plays a role in who she has casual relationships with, but also plays a larger role in her and Mark’s discussion about possibly having a threesome. It’s also great how their sense of support is showcased in them helping one another create a dating profile and trying to be as open as possible with each other. There are even times where you see their relationship benefit from becoming open since they aren’t as tied down.
When it comes to delving into the initial, more positive aspects of open relationships, the film does a great job. However, when it comes to its final act that attempts to bring out some dangers and struggles in open relationships, it heavily falters. While the ideas of accidental pregnancies and STDs being a big danger of open relationships is interesting and something I haven’t really seen explored in these storylines, it takes the plot and characters in an unremarkable direction. The idea of these things coming up doesn’t go anywhere special or overly impactful and really feels like a copout for the film not delving into how this open relationship is a personal drain on Mark and Mary. Instead of focusing more on personal issues and the characters’ true feelings of their relationship or even if they find the feelings they have for each other in other people, the film takes an unnecessarily dark turn that slightly tarnishes the characters you grow to love and its exploration as a whole.
Although its fault-filled finale nearly ruins its dissection of open relationships and its great characters, Marks still ends up creating a unique coming of age romance narrative with “Mark, Mary & Some Other People” that’s headlined by two breakout performances from Law and Rosenfield.