Mirror is surprisingly bold and sophisticated for a 17-year old’s second short film, in that it makes a lot of sophisticated artistic decisions rarely seen from such a young filmmaker. Despite her inexperience, Sara Eustáquio manages to create a clear emotional experience in a non-narrative (or perhaps barely narrative) film. The film merely shows a young woman, played by Jaimie Marchuk, who appears to be having a breakdown in her bathroom. She laughs, she cries, she gets into the showing, she sees her double, she has a bottle of pills. It may be a mental breakdown, a suicide attempt, or an overdose.
The film’s elegance, however, lies not in its plot or theme but its styles and technique, which show a kind of confidence that even the most tested filmmakers can lack. Mirror lets the girl’s breakdown be messy, disruptive, and fraught. Its use of the jumpcut, for example, is visible without being overplayed and ostentatious. Moreover, the flash to the double is instant and very natural, and in this way is in fact rather scary. And the film uses a stark and smart soundtrack, mixing diegetic sound with some slight but terrifying sound effects. In other words, Eustáquio knows how to make images work without making them too symmetrical, or obviously stagey, or heavy-handed.
While her thematics may lack the maturity of her filmmaking practice (“don’t do drugs, kids!”), this young filmmaker is nevertheless someone to watch in the future. Mirror displays an almost uncanny knowledge of what makes images work well. In other words, it is a complete film instead of a compendium of contemporary styles and techniques.