Le Miroir

By Leila Murton Poole | Drama
A mute orphan protects a superstitious lady from all her bad luck.

When Mathilde was 12 years old, she lost her parents in a fire at an opera house and then went mute, refusing to speak. Now a young woman, she lives with the opera singer, Madame B, who was performing the night Mathilde's parents died.

Mathilde and Madame B live in a kind of lonely splendor, each grieving the loss of loved ones. They also live in a state of constant superstition, to avoid bad luck. But when the singer's prized mirror -- a gift from her late husband -- breaks from Mathilde's loud rock music, Mathilde uses her voice for the first time and venture into the world at large.

Written and directed by Leila Murton Poole, this opulent and captivating fantasy short is, emotionally, a story about grief, loss and coming to terms with tragedy. But that knotty emotional terrain belies a tone and atmosphere that will draw in viewers with its elegance and charm, and fans of Wes Anderson and films like "Amelie" will find much to revel in here.

Visually rich with a distinctly European sophistication, each frame of the film possesses delightful detail for the eye to feast upon, rendered in frankly gorgeous light and cinematography. But more importantly to the narrative, it establishes how the two women have created their own world. It's a fanciful, beautiful world rich with creativity and imagination. But it's also hermetically sealed off from other outside experiences and people, insulating them from their raw grief after a catastrophic loss.

Each "chapter" of the narrative patiently lays down the foundation of character, from Mathilde's unusual and tragic backstory to Madame B's beliefs and rituals that govern their life together, which include the presence of a magical mirror made by Madame B's husband. Actors Rachel Giddens as Mathilde and Vivienne Powell as Madame B work beautifully within the highly stylized world of the film, embodying a kind of distant regal glamour but also giving shape and voice to each character's melancholy and sadness.

When Madame B's prized mirror breaks, Mathilde must use her voice for the first time in ages and venture into the outside world. There she meets a mysterious young 12-year-old boy named Tobias, who helps her on her quest to repair the mirror. And through Tobias's precociously wise presence, some mysterious magic, and the use of her voice, Mathilde is finally able to come to terms with her loss and truth.

That resolution forms the emotional heart of "Le Miroir," which teaches Mathilde to grief fully and confront the truth in equal measure. In doing so, she moves forward -- with as much mystery and magic as before, but towards happiness. Tobias may not know Mathilde's exact fate, but like this spellbinding film, we're still charmed and captivated to the very end.

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