Eye For Film >> Movies >> In The Mirror (2020) Film Review
In The Mirror
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
Laila Pakalnina's blackly comic fairy tale is built on the central idea of the mobile phone as a mirror. This is Snow White seen through a selfie prism that retells the familiar tale in ways that question today's tendency towards self-centredness and surface pleasures, exemplified by the way we use our phones. Her conceit is to have a character in each scene holding the camera in phone-selfie style, either speaking directly to it or while action bustles in the background. Even when whoever is holding the camera is speaking to another person, they keep looking at the camera - meaning that scenes such as the early funeral of Snow White's mother are given an added sense of black comedy, as those who come to pay respects also make time to pose for the lens as we watch her father, holding the camera, as tears of grief trickle down his face.
The Grimm tale is transported to a modern gym environment, where its King (Lauris Dzelzitis) is a crossfit trainer. After the birth of his daughter (Madlena Valdberga), he remarries his own gym queen (Elza Leimane, better known to Latvian audiences as the principal dancer with their national ballet). The queen's claim to fame is that she can do 50 burpees one after the other - with the exercise in question, used as an enjoyably absurdist chorus throughout.
Snow White can do 53 burpees without trying, a situation which her stepmother cannot stand and which leads her to commit the first of several tricks in a bid to wipe out the younger girl, only for her to be saved by a hunter (Kaspars Gods) - who in this case, is a taxi driver hunting fares. Many of the familiar story beats are here, including the poisonous apple, although the Seven Dwarfs are given a macho makeover, appearing as bulked up male gym bunnies who just happen to live together in a house in the woods (among their number is world champion strongman Aivars Smaukstelis, bike trial rider Janis Lacis and a gaggle of acrobats, who all get to show off their moves).
The story may be slight, and a subplot involving sailors and Snow White's dad ending all at sea on the silly side but the selfie-satire is sharp and the visuals are never dull, whether Pakalnina is forcing us to consider the ridiculousness of producing a phone camera at every moment in our lives or simply inviting us to marvel at some great acrobatic choreography. The actors deserve huge credit for acting while permanently "holding the phone" as does Gints Berzins, who proves surprisingly nimble when it comes to catching the action.Reviewed on: 27 Nov 2020