Yesterday, I decided to take the afternoon off and go to a matinee. After some internal debate, I settled on Mirrormask. Even though this film had poor critical reviews, I had heard that the visuals were stunning and the people who have actually seen the movie liked it much better than the critics.
I wasn’t disappointed at all in the visuals. The 3D work was totally gorgeous and extremely creative. I also think that this little film had a lot more to offer than the critics gave it credit for. True, the narrative is weak. But it is not about narrative, it’s more like a lyrical, surrealist poem of a young girls adolescent awakening. The young woman, Helena, is a child of the circus, and desires nothing more than to run away and join real life. She fights with her mother, but when her mother becomes gravely ill and ends up in the hospital, Helena retreats into a fantasy world. There she discovers that an anti-Helena has taken over her real life and is intent on destroying everything. That’s the narrative in a nutshell.
The movies light jazz soundtrack, at times adds to the surreal ambience, but at other times is distracting. The acting too, is uneven, and sometimes I wished that Helena would drop the sweet smile when it seemed entirely inappropriate. This gives the movie a kindy of silly gooiness that you sometimes see in French films. Although Mirrormask is an English production, it very much feels French, occasionally reminding me of City of Lost Children.
One last thing, I was the only one in the theater who was over 30. So, maybe my tastes are just weird. With the caveats, I highly recommend this movie. Just keep in mind you are not there for the story. It’s the art.