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Mirror Mirror

Critic:

Isaac Parkinson

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Posted on:

23 May 2022

Film Reviews
Mirror Mirror
Directed by:
Harmeet Singh Grewal
Written by:
Harmeet Singh Grewal
Starring:
David Brown-King
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Mental health on screen is a challenging topic, and honest depictions are hard to come by. Often grounded attempts at realism for those suffering is seen as gratuitously indulging in psychological pain, while more heightened genre pieces are accused of not taking their topic seriously enough.

 

Dissociative Identity Disorder in particular is often used as a device. A functional shortcut to drama which psychological thrillers use as an automatic route to a disturbed state of mental unrest. It’s frequently crude and only furthers a stigma that those diagnosed with DID are dangerous and unstable.

Split comes to mind as a recent example of a film which took an extreme approach to realising a character of multiple personalities. While there were thoughtful criticisms of this depiction, the film was at least consistent in its ideas and seemed largely uninterested in engaging in a grounded or educational discussion on mental health. Mirror Mirror is in many ways opposite — desperate to be involved in the discussion despite having no new ideas to contribute.

 

A man, Anthony, speaks secretively on the phone, evidently afraid of someone overhearing. On the other end of the phone is someone he seems hopeful will save him. The initial foreboding mystery is nicely accompanied by crisp black and white colour. The image is ultra-clear, its high-definition providing a strong contrast to the muted tones.

 

As Anthony enters the bathroom, we see a sheet covering the mirror. He seems fearful of its presence, and what he will see if he looks back. This is quickly revealed as the alternate personality of ‘Tony,’ more unhinged and aggressive than the Anthony we first met.

 

The internal conflict between clashing identities is a heavily overplayed trope, which necessitates often comical over-acting. The dual-role is particularly challenging here, given that he has to switch mid-sentence and without any cuts to allow reconfiguring. Brown-King’s performance is impressive in that he is able to still construct this conflict believably, but a shot-reverse-shot structure would be more effective to build their internal dialogue.

 

Their argument moves in gratuitously sadistic circles and never seems to want to arrive at a point of any kind, but rather just flagrantly exhibit its own tired ideas of mental illness. This comes to the natural conclusion of suicide, appearing to delight in the image of suffering and eventual death. Furthering a sense that there is no escape for someone struggling mentally, this is a predictable ending which is sad to see repeated so many times.

 

The film ends with a disclaimer about DID, although it appears to not be taken from any verified medical source. It then suggests that its intent was to “provide insight” into DID and encourages anyone suffering to get treatment, although again no source to such treatment or further reading is provided.

 

It feels dishonest to me to suggest the goal of this film was to help show “how our understanding of this mental disorder can help save someone’s live.” Aside from the typo which could be avoided by simply citing a reputable source, the idea of understanding any mental disorder remains impossible with texts such as this, only furthering a dramatic stigma surrounding those suffering.

About the Film Critic
Isaac Parkinson
Isaac Parkinson
Short Film