Mirror

Mirror ★★★★★

The camera as a mirror; portraits of our characters on celluloid reflected back onto the screen for the viewer to project their own images. Tarkovsky meanders, and even when confronting specific details, he deliberately eschews explanation in both his realistic and magical elements, coercing his audience to recollect and reconsider every event that had led them to this point. The easy contemporary comparison is The Tree of Life, and while I still prefer Malick's vision (which is admittedly more aggressive), the haunting subtlety here just cannot be ignored. I found myself, out of nowhere, thinking about this, and I just had to return; there's something weirdly addictive about watching these seemingly incongruent scenes and trying to imagine what could possibly have made them match together. While it doesn't bother with rules in its poetry like other back-and-forth yoyo structures like Once Upon a Time in America or The Godfather: Part II, it operates within its own separate kind of logic as memories lead to other tangential memories. I don't think this could possibly have worked as well had it not switched between colour and black-and-white, even if only because it makes the colours stand out even more (the snow in this movie is beautiful beyond belief).

"Mother, why do we have to fight all the time? I'm sorry if I did anything wrong."

The majority of Mirror takes place during the mother's eventful middle-age years, but come the final ten minutes, we see her reaching her old age, remembering but forgiving the misfortune and misery of the long years that have gone by as her son eventually gives way for new life to come. Instead of staring into the lens of Rerberg's gentle camera for any kind of audience-led assistance, she, along with the filmmakers themselves, move on to nurturing the next generation, accompanying them in their own personalised timeline, if only briefly. She and her son had had their hundred minutes to reminisce and contemplate, and in those final moments, they are at last content; that was more than enough. But now it's time to pass down the baton; it's time for the children to tell their tales. A story as a breeding ground for more experiences to come. That's cinema. What a feat this is.

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