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Sunday, October 9, 2005

MirrorMask (****)

 October 9, 2005
One of the best movies of the year. A lovingly-crafted, sumptuously-designed work of staggering imagination, centered around the tale of a 15 year old girl entering her own dream world, learning about the darkness within herself, and choosing which path her life will lead. MirrorMask is adapted by Neil Gaiman, writer, and Dave McKean, director and artist, from their graphic novel, which I haven’t read. I was rather surprised after I saw it and loved it that the reviews were more than a little unkind. My feeling on the matter is if you enjoyed Gaiman’s The Sandman, which McKean did all the covers for, then you have a leg up on everyone else for seeing MirrorMask for the joy that it is. MirrorMask shares much of The Sandman’s sensibilities when it comes to visuals and storytelling. Furthermore, when compared to similar movies involving all-CGI environments like Sin City and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, MirrorMask is superior. Sin City may be “cooler” with its gigantic cast and its hip director, but the main difference is I cared a hell of a lot more about MirrorMask’s main character Helena (Stephanie Leonidas in a dreamy performance) than I did about anyone in Sin City. MirrorMask is a touching and haunting jaunt into the magical dream world of a whip-smart, conflicted, but bright and charming girl. It reaffirms the importance of family, the thrill of imagination, and redemptive qualities of the goodness in a person’s heart. MirrorMask has its slow sections and its flaws, quirks, and eccentricities but it’s honest and true. A great dream movie.