The Mirror

on September 18, 1998 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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   Avoiding the sophomore curse, Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi follows his fine debut "The White Balloon" with an equally accomplished but less predictable movie about a little girl's travails in the nasty big city.
   At first, we see Mina (Mina Mohammad Khani) beginning to worry when her mother doesn't come to pick her up after school. She decides to make her way home on her own, only to brush up against her own fears and an indifferent adult populace which isn't helping her in her plight. Suddenly the actress in the film decides she's had enough and quits the project. But the director decides the movie's not over yet and films this "real" girl as she returns to her home.
   Cleverly mixing "Day for Night" with traditional Iranian neo-realism, "The Mirror" forces the audience to consider the nature of artifice and fact and ask which part of the film is truer and purer? Those are questions without answers but, cinematically, the conundrum is highly compelling.    Starring Mina Mohammad Khani and Kazem Mojdehi. Directed and written by Jafar Panahi. Produced by Jafar Panahi and Vahid Nikkhah. A Cowboy release. Drama. Farsi with English subtitles. Running time: 95 min.
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