Mark, Mary & Some Other People is a delightful comedy with sharp, nudity-free sexual politics and two captivating leading performances from Ben Rosenfield and Hayley Law as Mark and Mary, respectively. The closest comparison I can provide from this charmer are 2010’s Justin Long / Drew Barrymore dramedy Going the Distance and 2009’s (500) Days of Summer. The setup is decidedly simple, yet rife with hilarious zingers and sizzling with romantic chemistry.
Mark and Mary used to go to school together, but until he brings up Lord of the Flies, Mary doesn’t even remember meeting him. The two bump into each other at a local convenience store, and their connection is instantaneous. Although she is shopping for a pregnancy test, there is a spark between them that is undeniable. A decision to share lunch ignites the budding attraction. Mark insists he is “one of the good ones;” he joined two women’s marches, cleans houses, walks dogs and works for a plastic manufacturer. Mary plays in a band called Butter Cunt and does voiceovers for commercials. He asks for her number, but Mary coyly responds, “I should probably find out if I’m knocked up first.” Before the credits are even over, we skip ahead to “one year-ish later.” Already, Mark gets her name tattooed; the duo gets married; and they trip on drugs together. What comes after happily ever after?
Before long, Mark and Mary’s sex life grows less and less exciting. Mark can’t perform in bed longer than sixty seconds, and Mary longs to explore her bisexual love for women, as well as other men. This is where the fun really gets amped up. At the initial behest of Mark, the duo makes a Fifty Shades-like contract with rules about sexual exploration and their relationship. Deciding to open up a relationship to multiple sexual partners is tricky indeed, and they work to juggle their life as things get ever more complicated.
Before this film, I had never heard of ethical non-monogamy, but apparently it is a very hot deal in the modern dating world. I simply saw it as an open relationship. The movie doesn’t really take a side one way or the other on if it supports this practice. It never lets down either of the complex and complicated lead characters. Their sexy vibe together had me rooting for their characters to be endgame. It helps that both of them are exceedingly gorgeous humans—Ben Rosenfield has cute curly locks to twirl your fingers through and a doofy-adorkable mustache situation, while Hayley Law has a raw, alluring unconventional beauty and swagger that she brings to Mary.
Cute touches of character-specific traits pepper realism into the comedic asides. Mary is insecure about her band’s name and is constantly considering wacky changes, such as Random Chlamydia. Mark is so confident about their relationship that he doesn’t even realize he’s not sexually pleasing Mary. His resistance to change makes sense, given his deep love for her. After all, he was willing to tattoo her name on his arm after just a few short months. What works most, though, is the love story at the core of Mark, Mary & Some Other People. Conversations about threesomes that include lines like “you wanna be inside other people” and “I’m not crossing swords” made me laugh and rang true. Pop culture references, like Mark’s love of Zoolander, fit the film like a glove. One of the best couples’ scenes is when the two direct photo shoots for one another’s dating profiles to attract potential lovers. They are just so playful together. Mark’s line about having to “make my wife more fuckable for other men” plays up the irony of partners literally helping each other find sexual matches.
The ending drives home the greater themes of the film, while still feeling a little unsatisfying. However, there is a beautiful allure in its possibilities. It is an ending that echoed most similarly to 2018’s La La Land. This hilarious and low-key comedy is one of my favorite films at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Mark, Mary, & Some Other People screened at 2021’s Tribeca Film Festival, June 10th, 2021.