Written by: Christopher Llewellyn Reed | June 10th, 2021
Mark, Mary & Some Other People (Hannah Marks, 2021) 3 out of 4 stars.
Twentysomething sexual freedom sounds like a great idea. On some level, most people probably think a little bit about what it would be like to experiment, while those who are older and never did wish they had. But what if you wed early on? Ethical non-monogamy offers married couples the chance to fool around with partners outside their primary relationship without sacrificing long-term intimacy. Or so it is supposed to go. In Mark, Mary & Some Other People, from writer/director (and also actress, though not here) Hannah Marks (Banana Split), a seemingly solid plan goes awry, to comic and grave consequence.
Mark (Ben Rosenfield, 6 Years) and Mary (Hayley Law, The New Romantic) are vague, almost forgotten acquaintances from college who meet sort of cute in a convenience store just as Hayley is buying a pregnancy test. She doesn’t want to be alone, so invites Mark into the bathroom with her to wait for the results. Though hardly the most romantic of beginnings, once she finds out that no baby is on the way, they go out for a snack and exchange numbers. One thing quickly leads to another, they hook up, and “one year-ish later” (as the title card goes) they get hitched in a kitschy same-day marriage place.
She’s in a band (while earning money as a sexy-maid house cleaner), and he … well, we’re never quite sure what he does, exactly, though we know that he and his never-seen father are working on a pregnancy test of their own that can deliver readings from saliva alone. The stage is set for a quirky, fun comedy of gentle adventures through youthful love. Until one of Mary’s bandmates (who happens to also be her sister), questions her monogamous path. And from there, we’re off to the sexual races. Though not in an even line, as it turns out.
Thanks to Marks’s fine dialogue and her ensemble’s droll performances, Mark, Mary & Some Other People proves a mostly witty, insightful examination of the ins and outs of love and desire. The excellent supporting cast includes Odessa A’zion (Ladyworld), Nik Dodani (Escape Room) and Lea Thompson (The Year of Spectacular Men), among many others, all contributing to the wild joy of the affair. There’s a jaunty quality to everything, from the editing to the frequent onscreen titles to the music, that initially makes the film appear strictly lighthearted, though as the story progresses, it grows more somber, befitting how our characters feel after some bruising experiences.
Unfortunately, there is an imbalance in the writing in terms of how Mark is portrayed. Intentionally or not, he comes across as the more immature, needy and narcissistic of the two, which makes it harder to balance sympathies, which is what it feels like the movie would otherwise want us to do. That miscalculation aside, Mark, Mary & Some Other People engages, throughout, no matter one’s age or relationship status. A cautionary tale that often throws caution to the wind, it offers salacious and thoughtful delights aplenty.