Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Mirror

The Mirror is pure art house cinema. It's not a movie made to be casually absorbed and enjoyed, it is a film designed to be examined and reexamined and appreciated. It's the kind of thing that requires careful study to truly grasp the complex subtlety of, and having only seen it once and with less than perfect attention, I can't say I fully got it. There's not really a plot anywhere, as the film jumps back and forth in time, from black and white to color, from reality to dreamy imagery, as the main character reflects on his past. Scenes are punctuated with poetry written and read by the director's father. It does the classic art house thing of having one woman play multiple important characters in a person's life. The "pretentious" label really isn't hard to apply, and it's easy to see why a casual viewer wouldn't fall in love with it.

I still liked it though, which speaks to Andrei Tarkovsky's skill as a director. It takes a lot of talent to make a movie with no real story interesting for close to two hours. I don't know to what extent the film reflects his own life, knowing only that it's considered a fairly autobiographical film, but there's a sadness and believability to the whole thing that comes across even if you're not doing the best job of combining all of the separate little pieces into a cohesive whole. There's some really striking and profound imagery, most commonly found in the pretty amazing dream sequences, and letting the film wash over me proved to be an interesting if not thoroughly exciting experience. I definitely prefer a little more plot in my movies, but Tarkovsky is good enough to carry the thing out of the endless void of its own ass it could have fallen into.

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