Experiencing Interruptions?

Mercury in Retrograde

Three couples from Chicago vacation together for a weekend at a lakeside cabin in Michigan. Isabelle (Roxane Mesquida) and Richard have been together for five years and are deeply unhappy; Jack and Golda have been happily married for 10 years; and Peggy (Najarra Townsend) and Wyatt just started dating and don't yet know each other well. Over the course of three days in this relationship drama, hidden tensions and secrets will slowly come to the surface.

  • Michael Glover Smith
    Cool Apocalypse
  • Michael Glover Smith
    Cool Apocalypse
  • Shane Simmons
    Henry Gamble's Birthday Party
  • Roxane Mesquida
    Key Cast
    Malgre la Nuit, Kiss of the Damned, Rubber, Kaboom, Gossip Girl, Fat Girl
  • Najarra Townsend
    Key Cast
    Contracted, Me and You and Everyone We Know
  • Andrew Sensenig
    Key Cast
    Upstream Color, We Are Still Here
  • Jack C. Newell
    Key Cast
    Open Tables
  • Shane Simmons
    Key Cast
    Party Time Party Time
  • Alana Arenas
    Key Cast
    Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble Member
  • Kevin Wehby
    Key Cast
    Cool Apocalypse
  • Frank V. Ross
    The Pervert, Audrey the Trainwreck, Harmony and Me
  • Jason Chiu
    Henry Gamble's Birthday Party
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Comedy, Art
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 44 minutes 25 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 31, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    105,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Full Bloom Film Festival
    Statesville, NC
    United States
    September 16, 2017
    World Premiere
    Winner: Best Narrative Feature Award
  • Oakton Pop-Up Film Festival
    Des Plaines, IL
    United States
    November 30, 2017
    Midwestern Premiere
  • Gene Siskel Film Center
    Chicago, IL
    United States
    February 16, 2018
    Chicago Premiere
  • Tallahassee Film Festival
    Tallahassee, FL
    United States
    March 24, 2018
    Florida Premiere
    Winner: Directors’ Choice Award - Best Feature
  • Wales International Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    October 5, 2018
    International Premiere
  • Saugatuck Center for the Arts
    Saugatuck, MI
    United States
    September 21, 2018
    Michigan Premiere
Director Biography - Michael Glover Smith

"One of the Windy City's finest filmmakers."
- Matt Fagerholm, RogerEbert.com

Michael Glover Smith is a filmmaker, author and film studies instructor. His debut feature, COOL APOCALYPSE (2015), won multiple awards at festivals across the U.S. and screened at Chicago's Gene Siskel Film Center and Movies in the Parks' Onscreen Local Film Showcase before being released on home video by Emphasis Entertainment. His second feature, MERCURY IN RETROGRADE, starring Roxane Mesquida and Najarra Townsend, won the top prizes at the 2018 Tallahassee Film Festival and the 2017 Full Bloom Film Festival. He is the co-author, with Adam Selzer, of the acclaimed FLICKERING EMPIRE (Columbia University Press, 2015), a book-length study of the silent film industry in Chicago. He teaches film history and aesthetics at several Chicago-area colleges and is the founder and sole author of the film blog whitecitycinema.com.

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Director Statement

In MERCURY IN RETROGRADE I wanted to explore how men and women communicate (and miscommunicate) with each other in the modern world. In this respect, it continues and deepens the themes of my previous feature COOL APOCALYPSE, which showed how one couple comes together for the first time while another breaks apart for the final time. A friend who saw the earlier movie remarked that it was easy to show people falling in and out of love but difficult to show what happens in between. That got the gears turning that my next film should somehow be about the “in between.” I decided to make a movie about three couples from Chicago vacationing together for a weekend at a cabin in rural Michigan. Stepping away from their daily routines for three days causes each of the six principle characters to take emotional stock of their lives and see their relationships in a new light.

I also wanted to show how gender roles have evolved in the 21st century. While the world has continued to make great strides towards gender equality, I do not believe modern man has made the necessary progress in his emotional life to correspond with this social progress. I wanted to illustrate this through the climactic scenes in which the female and male characters each talk among themselves. The women in this film have more authentic emotional lives and are more prone to be open with each other and discuss personal things. The men, by contrast, are not as in touch with their emotions and consequently socialize with one another primarily through physical and intellectual competition. The challenge of making this film then was to illustrate these phenomena through showcasing the work of a fine ensemble cast in which the dialogue they speak is both naturalistic and of secondary importance in terms of the “meaning” of each scene.