Into the Mirror

 

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A British film about nonconformists which itself refuses to conform. 

   
Into the Mirror

 

We have here a heartfelt movie short in length (it lasts scarcely more than an hour) but ambitious in terms of how it approaches its subject. Although it is directed by a first time filmmaker, Lois Stevenson, Into the Mirror is very much a work by Jamie Bacon and Charles Streeter and is billed as such. In addition to being the lead actors, they share the credit for the screenplay based on Bacon’s story and the film is such a personal endeavour that it is almost a surprise that they handed the direction to somebody else.

 

Over the years, there have been many gay films about coming out and usually the impact of that on family and friends is central to such stories. Here, however, the focus is always on Daniel (Bacon’s role), a young man who has left home to work in an office in London as a dealer. We see how a co-worker, Blu (Beatrice May), encourages him to visit the Lost & Found nightclub which she frequents herself. It’s there that Daniel first encounters Jen (Streeter) who regularly dresses in drag and by the time that the film ends Daniel is also dressing up having, in effect, found his true self at last.

 

Although Into the Mirror consciously avoids any sense of sensationalism, it seeks to show events less as a naturalistic narrative than as a reflection of what is going on in Daniel’s mind. To do so it incorporates flashback memories of his childhood and of his angry father while also suggesting how his own fears and paranoia affect him (when two men follow him it could be the build up to a gay bashing but the possible threat may exist only in his head). Late on, Daniel refers to being open at last about something he had kept hidden, but in reality this is a film about coming out fully to himself for the first time.

 

Daniel’s progression is of the essence here and, even if some scenes could be dreams or fantasies, there is a clear sense of arrival without the need to be absolutely specific about what Daniel is discovering: it could be simply his homosexuality or his need to cross-dress or just the recognition suggested in a mirror scene central to the film that he does not need to be exclusively male or female. By not being more precise, Into the Mirror widens the scope for individual viewers to identify directly with Daniel.

 

Bacon and Streeter contrast well with each other and both give good performances. Furthermore, Into the Mirror comes across as very much its own thing. That being so, it's a pity that the last quarter of an hour becomes more stylised still, a kind of choreographed stage show which is almost a recap of what has gone before including the menace felt by Daniel when his boss (John Sackville) is around. This section feels at once superfluous and obscure, but what Bacon and Streeter are attempting here is far from easy and, despite its failings, the film deserves to be welcomed as a truly original work.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Jamie Bacon, Charles Streeter, Beatrice May, John Sackville, Sophia La Porta, Jack Helsby, Ava Amande, Carl Russell, Florence Cady, Nicole Evans, Taylor Simner.

 

Dir Lois Stevenson, Pro Jamie Bacon, Charles Streeter and Neylin Mutlu, Screenplay Jamie Bacon and Charles Streeter, from a story by Jamie Bacon, Ph Carlos Torres, Ajay Arora and Neil Parsons, Ed Robert Miklausic, Music Johnny Jewel.

 

Dean Street Productions-Dean Street Productions.
65 mins. UK. 2018. Rel: 22 November 2019. Cert. 15.