Into the Mirror
Most of us experience a period of struggle to claim an honest sense of self, but for those in the LGBTQ+ community, it can be even more difficult to find acceptance of one’s true identity. Lois Stevenson’s Into the Mirror sets London’s neon, pulsating club scene as the stage to explore gender identity and performance, but the film’s thoughtful exposition of the subject matter leans on conveying a mood more than illustrating the experiences of its characters.
The film centres around softly spoken Daniel (Jamie Bacon), a newcomer to London having left behind their emotionally distant father. At their office job, Daniel’s boss continuously teases them about their masculinity with humiliating remarks. One night, coworker Blue (Beatrice May) invites Daniel to a club called Lost & Found, where the protagonist meets a beautiful drag queen who sparks a profound sense of passion within them.
The feature clearly articulates its statement that gender is a performance, especially in its striking use of colour. Daniel’s everyday life in the daylight of London feels heavily weighed down by grey and blue tones. Under the cover of darkness, the character comes to life in the stark contrast of brightly saturated neon of all shades, especially red and purple. While it shines stylistically, Into the Mirror keeps its characters deliberately vague, and would have done well to reveal more about Daniel and their journey rather than mystify viewers.
Particularly in the first half of the film, the dialogue seems so precisely targeted and polarised that it almost portrays a comedic edge or panders to a sense of heartache. Daniel’s boss appears like a comic book villain of sexism while Blue perfectly understands all of Daniel’s inner turmoil. In the end, the most candid conversations come through in moments outside of London’s bars and clubs at night, when people barrel between unfiltered behaviour and personal clarity. This dissonance between style and script holds the picture back from gaining the momentum it needs to make a confident excursion into either a polished, or gloriously unpolished, narrative illustration.
Into the Mirror is most accomplished in its powerful method of performative character exposition. The film welcomes a space for Daniel to explore and open up about themselves through poetic sequences in which Daniel performs the act of finding oneself. It can be painful to look for one’s own true identity, but it hopefully leads to acceptance and celebration.
Into the Mirror is released on demand on 22nd November 2019.
Watch the trailer for Into the Mirror here: