The Mirror Game
Jul 30, 2023
William J. Stribling
Teya Patt, Michael Tennant, Kenny Ridwan
Las Vegas is a city known for its wild nights. All the casinos, the post modernist hotels, the clubs. Elvis, Adele, Lady Gaga have all had lucrative residencies in the city. It’s the city where people go for bachelor and bachelorette parties, for wild holidays and one night stands. Ross and Rachel were married there (again), Brad Pitt, George Clooney and co. pulled off a series of impressive heists, and Nic Cage got stuck there. William J. Stribling’s ‘The Mirror Game’ is another wild night in Sin City, though the success of this wild night is less clear than the aforementioned films and tv.
The neon lights of the strip shine brightest on those who dare, and in ‘The Mirror Game’ that is Rose (Teya Patt), a frustrated single woman in her late thirties in Vegas for a friends bachelorette party. She’s checked into one of the numerous hotels to meet her old childhood friend Abe (Michael Tennant), a man whose hyperactivity is only countered by his own cynicism, for a catchup, with the latter in Vegas for a bachelor party himself. Rose would rather chill in the hotel room, which incidentally has been accidentally to have a king sized bed, than spend the night catching up at some casino, and so the two reminisce on old school days and bring each other up to date with their lives until Rose asks for a life altering favour from Abe.
‘The Mirror Game’ follows in the vein of films such as Richard Linklater’s seminal ‘Before’ Trilogy, and the filmography of Wong Kar Wai in its questioning of love, desire, friendship, and a whole host of other issues in the modern world. Its failure to reach a level of profundity, or to achieve the serenity offered by such films, is frustrating, but not a fault unto itself. Rather the issue is that it tries to cover such a broad range of themes and issues, many of which without the depth necessary, and that the writing by Marissa Flaxbart is so intent on being punchy that it goes to hard, becoming incredibly irritating rather than philosophically emotional.
This is not for a lack of trying, and there are moments, particularly surrounding ideas of love, marriage and desire, and what those things mean that are genuinely well-thought out and contain a well-constructed argument. However, around other themes - i.e. modernity, feminism, and technology - the ideas fall flat, and are generally less interesting, with more stuffy dialogue that doesn’t zing in the same way certain other lines do. Although both Teya Patt and Michael Tennant are more than competent actors whose chemistry is believable and sometimes charming, with Tennant’s delivery of ‘what like do sex?’ Incredibly funny, they nonetheless fail to hold the film together in these less interesting moments, with Tennant’s Abe particularly coming across as an overacted caricature.
There’s a lot going on with ‘The Mirror Game’, and whilst not all of it works, when it does, it is a sumptuously refreshing meditation on twenty first century values and life for people in their late thirties.