The Mirror

The Mirror ★★★

A rare film in which storytelling is only a means to an end, Panahi instead more interested in navigating himself and finding ways to do so. The mirror is the screen staring back at ourselves even as it projects images of foreigners and strangers - it is so easy to find yourself alone with your reflection but so many of us are unaware of how to react or how to interact. Panahi executes reflection through allowing the form and content of the film to rebel against each other, reflecting a counterculture that can't exist because the culture is so strong. Iranian cinema is restricted which is exactly why the filmmakers find such inventive and fascinating ways to work without confines. Panahi, perhaps, defines this better than any other exploring the relations people have with others around them but more specifically the relations people have with their environs and the beliefs (both welcoming and hostile) that come from living in a certain way for a certain amount of time. The best scene is an early panorama of humanity in a bus before the crucial bait-and-switch, a beautiful exploration of people and their responses to places and things and changes around them in tone and atmosphere.