Mirror

Mirror ★★★★½

[86]

Second viewing, up from 78. Another one I wasn’t planning on revisiting, but simply couldn’t resist. I remain nearly as speechless to explain my thoughts as I was the first time around; if anything, foreknowledge only obfuscates things further, and unintelligibility is inversely proportional to scrutiny. But this is one of the few specific films I can think of that—not to sound pat or unnecessarily hyperbolic—genuinely transcends logic; a total submission of the left-brain to an onslaught of the purely extramundane. Tarkovsky distills the politics and the philosophy through encompassing poeticism, essentially rendering my usual aversion to such things inert; thus, they convene not as bouts of dogmatism but a true reminiscence of lifelong miscellanea—broken down, faded, and forged haphazardly back together, as memories often are. Like a great magic trick, attempting to unearth the secret—or in this case, some deeper “meaning”—threatens to ruin the illusion and break the spell; I’d rather not fully understand why I get chills when a strong gust of wind travels as a wavelength of bent grass in a wide-open field or stare wide-eyed at a condensation ring as it casually evaporates into nothingness on a wooden table. I just do, and that involuntary response is part of what makes this film such an extraordinary achievement; the inability to accurately dissect my immensely favorable reaction is proof—to my own, critically-focused mind—that not everything needs to be precisely understood to be appreciated. (Or, perhaps more accurately, that “understanding” something as personal and subjective as art is, in and of itself, a counterproductive objective.) My favorite example of cinema that exclusively attacks the viscera.

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