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A film by Michael Glover Smith

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.

2017 | 104 min | Color | USA | 2.35 | In English

Director Biography

3488c0476c-headshotMichael Glover Smith is a filmmaker, writer and teacher. His debut feature film, COOL APOCALYPSE (2015), won multiple awards at film festivals across the United States, screened at the prestigious Gene Siskel Film Center and is distributed on DVD by Emphasis Entertainment. His first book, Flickering Empire (Columbia University Press, 2015), is an acclaimed non-fiction 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.


Michael Glover Smith, Director, Writer
Shane Simmons, Producer
Kevin Wright, Producer
Frank V. Ross, Editor
Jason Chiu, Cinematographer


Roxane Mesquida
Najarra Townsend
Andrew Sensenig
Jack C. Newell
Shane Simmons
Alana Arenas
Kevin Wehby

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.

P.S. – I do not believe in astrology.