guppy's film reviews

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Year: 2005
Director: Dave McKean
Notable Actors: Stephanie Leonidas, Jason Barry, Rob Brydon
Score: A-
Summary: Wonderfully creative, by far the most imaginative thing I've seen in some time. Kind of all over the place.


I will preface this review with a warning. MirrorMask is not for everyone. It's definitely artsier fare than most moviegoers tend to watch, as suggested by its limited release mostly in indie theaters. If you can handle a fantastical, bizarre film, MirrorMask is definitely worth a watch.

MirrorMask is a collaborative effort between Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman. It is based on a story the two wrote together; Gaiman wrote the screenplay, and McKean directed it. The efforts of both are clearly visible in the resulting film.

The premise is a slightly bizarre twist on an otherwise fairly cliché setup. Helena (Leonidas) is a young girl whose family runs a traveling circus, and the night she and her mother have a big fight, her mother falls deathly ill. Helena blames herself, and that night, finds herself in a fantasy mirror world to her own. Some of the people bear strong resemblance to people in her own world, but they don't know her, and the rules of the other world are different. The plot develops from there, with the White Queen of the new world lying comatose, allowing her dark counterpart to become increasingly powerful. There are parallels drawn between this world and her own, some obvious metaphors and some less so.

The movie's visual style is definitely the first thing you'll notice. It is unmistakably the work of Dave McKean, whose extensive career includes the covers for Gaiman's famous Sandman comics. I found the visuals highly appealing, extremely creative and always attention-grabbing. The script is a good treatment of a fairly standard setup. The dialogue is its strongest suit, full of small, witty exchanges and a couple of entertaining recurring lines.

The only area where I think people may have problems with MirrorMask is that it's, well, very weird. It reminds me of a lot of the older fantastical films -- Alice In Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and the like, all films where a "normal" character found themselves suddenly in a world that didn't play by the rules they were used to.

If you're willing to invest a little thought, and you aren't put off by the prospect of a pretty atypical screenplay, MirrorMask is definitely worth a look. It's absolutely one of the most creative endeavors I've seen in years, and it's a lot of fun to watch, too.


  • after reading your review, i decided to at least check out the trailer for it... looks good... going to buy the movie (on your rec)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:33 PM  

  • Hey, thanks for the comment. Let me know if you like it :) Hopefully I haven't led you into buying a movie that's not to your taste.

    By Blogger guppy, at 8:48 PM  

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