March 22, 2006
MirrorMask (2005) - A Courageous Little Film
MirrorMask is the latest production by Jim Henson studios, and it's a wild ride. It tells the story of a young girl in a circus who wants a normal life, but whose world and personal identity are sent into turmoil with her mother's failing health. One night she wakes up in a strange dream world that looks remarkably like her drawings that she pins to her bedroom wall.
The film is an ambitious project that clearly has no delusions of being a mainstream success. It's visually spectacular, combining live-action and CGI with a dark and fascinating edge that would cause many mainstream audiences to bristle. However, what makes the film seem ambitious, even courageous, is the unfamiliar thematic territory it treads. In it's exploration of adolescence it has the courage to lump together the rebellious spirit of the teen and the controlling spirit of the mother as the "dark forces" that are encroaching on the lives of both, and as malignant agents in the main character's dream world. Few movies would have the kahoneys to label teenage angst as anything but healthy youthful self-expression. This film sees possible ill in teenage lashing out and the parental overreaction and calls it as it sees it.
It's not a perfect film, but one has to admire the groundbreaking nature of the author and director/designer. This movie will be seen by very few people, and that's a real shame.