After their friends Jack (Sydney Pollack) and Sally (Judy Davis) split up, the marriage between college professor Gabe (Allen) and magazine editor Judy (Mia Farrow) encounters several difficulties: Gabe becomes close to one of his students, aspiring writer Rain (Juliette Lewis), while Judy takes it upon herself to introduce Sally to one of her colleagues, becoming dissatisfied when they start a relationship. Meanwhile, Jack and Sally's separation wildly ranges from amicable to hostile, when it's revealed each is jealous of the other having found a new love interest.
Examples of tropes:
- Badass Boast:Gabe: Boy, I'd hate to be your boyfriend! He must go through hell.
Rain: Well, I'm Worth It.
- The Ditz: Sam, Jack's new girlfriend, a good-natured (and much younger) aerobics instructor whose main interests are health foods and fads.Man: If astrology were true —Sam: It is true! It is totally, totally, totally provable, you know?Woman: Provable how? From gypsies?Sam: Well, it's totally logical, right? You know, why wouldn't the position of the planets have an influence on our personalities?
- Foreshadowing: Gabe states Jack and Sally will be back together in a year. He's right, but Gabe and Judy will break up.
- Gilligan Cut: A few subtle ones. For example, Jack claims he'd never sleep with a hooker. Turns out, he caves in, sleeps with her, then not only has a regular thing with her, but starts having her bring hooker friends for some Menage A Trois.
- Happily Married: Rain's parents are happy and content, in stark contrast to Jack, Sally, Gabe and Judy.
- High-Class Call Girl: Before leaving Sally and finding a girlfriend, Jack hires consummate professional "Shawn Grainger".
- Ice Queen:
- Jack sees Sally as one, of the "bossy neurotic wife" variety; a major source of trouble throughout their marriage has been Sally's apparent frigidity, combined with her upper-class tastes. Subverted in that it's revealed Jack goes for that kind of woman.
- Meaningful Name: "Rain", named after poet Rainer Maria Rilke. The climax of the film between Rain and Gabe is during a thunderstorm.
- Mockumentary: The style of the film.
- No Ending: The film doesn't end so much as stop - deliberately (the plotlines, however, have been resolved).Gabe: Is this over now? Can I go?
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: Played with in the film. Gabe says he looked up "epucious" in the dictionary and couldn't find it. Rain tells him she made up the word for the character in her story, and that it sounded like it would fit his personality.
- Recycled In Space: Scenes from a Marriage but Darker and Edgier!
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Jack dates a perky aerobic instructor in her twenties — then finds out she doesn't fit in with his middle-aged friends and becomes an embarrassment.
- Teacher/Student Romance: Everything seems to be headed that way for Gabe and Rain, but he changes his mind after kissing her at her birthday party. Doesn't make him happier in the long run, though.