Hannah Marks is a true talent in this industry. The fact that she’s not better known as a creative genius is a pity, but one that is surely changing. Last year, her writing/starring effort Banana Split was one of 2020’s best, bar none. Now, she comes to the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival with a new movie. This time, she just writes and directs, putting all her focus behind the camera. The end result is a brilliantly entertaining flick in Mark, Mary & Some Other People. Marks takes a premise that could be wildly bungled and spins gold out of it. The end result is not just one of the festival’s best, but one of the year’s best films so far, overall.
Mark, Mary & Some Other People zigs when almost all other movies would zag. That’s a credit to Marks’ desire not to do something generic. Her characters are always messy in the most realistic of manners. They tackle situations like you or I would, and that makes them extra relatable. They’re also just super intelligent, which makes their successes or failures all the more palpable. The characters here are winners. Plus, it’s just a damn funny and romantic film, as well.
When Mark (Ben Rosenfield) runs into Mary (Hayley Law), he immediately remembers her from college and is smitten. She doesn’t initially remember him, but he’s charming in an unusual sort of way. He’s getting alcohol, but she’s buying a pregnancy test, so they’re clearly in the midst of different days. However, if the test is negative, she’ll go on a date with him. Fast forward a little ways later and they’re married. They’re clearly a fun couple, but Mary is experiencing a touch of boredom. Her solution? To propose opening up the relationship. Mark is initially aghast, but she gets him to be on a similar page and, despite his disbelief, they begin.
As they navigate the world of an open marriage, they’re given all sorts of advice, including from each other on their dating profiles. Some they listen to, some they don’t, but mostly, they’re following their own judgment, setting rules along the way. A lot of good sex ensues, but as you might imagine, it does eventually put a strain on their relationship. How Hannah Marks opts to take the story, especially in the third act, is best seen, as opposed to described. Suffice it to say, though, she makes this a realistic story, down to its final shots.
Both Hayley Law and Ben Rosenfield are perfectly cast here. Bigger names like Gillian Jacobs and Lea Thompson cameo, but you’re going to fall in love with Law’s Mary and Rosenfield’s Mark. Marks makes them so well written and fully realized, but the cast then takes those roles and breathes extra life into them. This is easily one of the top screen couples of the year.
Hannah Marks has an amazing ear for dialogue. Her scripts are always pitch-perfect, and this is no exception. Mark, Mary & Some Other People features hyper-focused directing, too, as she zeroes in on the performances and embraces them. It’s further proof that she’ll be an Oscar nominee before long. Her writing is too funny, too smart, and too real not to eventually win over the Academy. Marks has got the goods, plain and simple.
Playing at Tribeca, Mark, Mary & Some Other People will utterly delight you. It’s a true highlight of the fest, and now that it has been acquired, you’ll all able to see it later on this year. Trust me when I say that it’s well worth the wait. Hannah Marks is an indie treasure and this is just one more example.