Plainviewed’s review published on Letterboxd:
Mirror is unlike any film that I have seen before. It is a film of memories. Memories from a dying man. They take us to Russia prior to, during, and after world war II. There is no coherent storyline, only memories that jump back and forth out of chronological order. Rarely do we remember chronologically.
The opening scene acts as Tarkovsky’s opening statement. A therapist working with a man with a speech impediment. We see the shadow of the microphone on the back wall, giving an added meta quality to the scene. The man speaks, announcing clearly that he can speak. With this, Tarkovsky announces that he can now fluently speak to us through film. From that point on The Mirror truly spoke to me.
It was Ingmar Bergman that best articulated how Tarkovsky makes art through film. Bergman stated, “Tarkovsky is for me the greatest, the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.” Mirror, to me, seems to be Tarkovsky’s most dreamlike film. Although, maybe more like memories than actual dreams. Just like your own memories; one moment someone is there, the next moment she is gone. The older the memories are, the less contextual information there is. He doesn’t exactly remember why they were at that lady's house but he does remember his mom giving that chicken the axe. The use of slow motion heightens the action occurring. Throughout Mirror slow motion is used effectively, creating an almost trancelike state.
There are multiple images in this film that may rank at the top of my list of all time favorites. There’s the barn on fire, the water logged collapsing roof, the levitating woman, the slowly evaporating thumb print, the release of the bird, and those are just the more obvious choices. It is quite obvious that Tarkovsky has had some background in photography. The camera work draws you in and acts as if your point of view is an additional character in the film. Every part of this seems both foreign and completely familiar.
Not only is this film poetry it also includes some pretty striking poetry being read. Apparently, the poetry of his nationally famous poet father. The poems seemed organic to the scenes they were in. It feels that the poems were written twenty years prior to this film but about this specific memory that Tarkovsky is now putting on film. Like an additional perspective. The poetry enriches the art.