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Reviews & Ratings for
The Mirror More at IMDbPro »Ayneh (original title)

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22 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful and powerful film.

Author: Red-125 from Upstate New York
14 September 1999

Ayneh (The Mirror) is an unusual, interesting, and compelling work. The young star, Mina, is type-cast as a forceful and self-reliant young girl. The city of Teheran, as portrayed, has an almost anarchic quality to its vehicle and pedestrian traffic rules. The constant threat of accident adds a real edge to this cinema verité film. (In fact, the only problem I had with this movie was the ethical concern of allowing any actor, especially a young girl, anywhere near all this traffic.)

The Mirror is an excellent choice if you are looking for a noisy, exciting portrayal of an individual caught up in a realistic urban setting. Not a soothing film, but in my opinion, a great one.

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:


Author: ( from Hong Kong
22 February 2000

Although this is no Hollywood, but just like another day in LA the poor director is having trouble with his temperamental star, save by quick thinking he somehow has turn this film into (perhaps) a far more interesting movie then he has intended.

Little Mina is a good actress, if not a very professional one, but one should consider that she is only in second year of her primary school and she has plenty of character to make up for it.

The film follows the day of Mina, and how she was trying to find her way home which mirrors the story of the film she no longer wants to take part in. The film lets us see the world from a little girl's point of view, hear her thoughts... it's a little reminder of how it was when we were little... being a child is not easy... no one wants to take you seriously, it takea you twice the time just to dial at a payphone, you don't remember those funny names grown up call those road.

It is a very interesting film, perhaps slow at first, but it will certainly make you laughs, make you think.

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11 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A Peek Into Iran

Author: TIG ( from Washington, DC
27 August 2001

The fact that this film is set in Tehran makes it more then just a good little "slice of life" film. The setting and story give us a glimpse into ordinary life in one of the places that we westerners only read about in the newspapers and then only when bad things are happening there.

The story chronicles second grade student Mina's eventful trip home from school on a day that her mother fails to show up to take her home. Mina travels by scooter, bus, taxi and on foot through the frantic traffic of downtown Tehran. On her way home she meets with and overhears conversations by many different people from an old woman, to a police officer, to a auto mechanic. Mina also manages to quit the movie about half way through yet her odyssey continues anyway hence the film's title. Mina is very fresh and cute, the bit players are all very real and the trip home from school is fraught with situations that waiver between poignient to funny. Everything adds up to a film well worth watching.

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

In the best tradition of Iranian film

Author: eowyn_in_gondor from Kuwait
24 May 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really like Iranian movies because they tend to be a lot deeper and thought provoking than your typical Hollywood action/entertainment type films. This one is like that. Warning: spoilers.

It follows a girl's journey home from school. Her mother did not pick her up as planned. Scared and alone, you follow her one-woman struggle against the world in her quest to get home. Your heart really goes out to her as she cries that she doesn't know what bus to take, when suddenly she bursts out "I CAN"T TAKE IT ANY MORE!" Then she rips off her hijab and her fake cast and shouts at the director and cameramen that she hates them and wants to go home. So then the filmmakers follow her to her real home, as she walks and takes a taxi to her family dwelling, as she is completely unaware that they are on her trail.

The point of this movie is that film and real life are often interchangeable. The first part of the film was fantasy, about a girl trying to get home. The realistic part of the film is still about a girl trying to get home. It's brilliant! It does have the feel that the director started making one movie and ended up with something completely different, but the end result is pure genius. Maybe that really is what happened, or maybe they engineered the whole thing to begin with.

In any case, I really liked this movie. 4/5 stars.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Keep It Rolling!

Author: (AfroPixFlix) from United States
28 April 2011

One of the most brilliant movies you'll ever see! Before the 38-minute mark, you will be caught up in the drama of a lost little second grade school girl wandering along the perilous traffic of Teheran. After the 38-minute mark, one of the most incredible experiences in cinema begins: the meltdown of Mina the Diva. This tiny, squeaky voiced actress refuses to participate in the film anymore, and 4 minutes after her meltdown, director Panahi makes a split second decision that changed the film and his career: KEEP FILMING. The next hour is filled with more drama than any script could ever create: (a) Mina sheds her scarf, an arm cast and clothing before she storms off the bus in a rebellion as bold as a student uprising during the Revolution, (b) After yelling to the camera man to LAY OFF, Mina darts through traffic as the camera tries to keep up with her, but in her haste to flee the set, she keeps the mike on and we hear her footsteps and conversations she has with people as she tries to navigate her way home—she really does get lost, (c) we have scary scenes when we can't see Mina, but hear cars screeching to a halt: maybe she has she been hit (d) we hear some shady men talking to her, and we wonder is this a child threatened with abduction (e) on the bus and in taxi rides that Mina takes, we hear the true undercurrents of Iranian society regarding the tension between modern women and traditional men, (f) we learn of how compassionate some people can be towards keeping the world's most precious asset, our children, safe. I will not spoil it, but the natural ending to this tale is great. This is one of the best films you can all year. So AfroPixFlix says see it!

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Movie and Reality in Terms of Paradox

Author: Pierre Radulescu from United States
6 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It starts with a little girl trying to get home from school by herself, and as in any story of this kind, there are all kind of funny events. It is always interesting to see the world of grown ups through the eyes of a kid, also the Ciné-Vérité style of the movie is amazing in catching the street universe of today's Tehran.

All this is true, but after five minutes you start asking yourself what's the big deal. As director Jafar Panahi is known to be one of the big names in the Iranian movie world you'd expect with each new film coming from him to see something really new. The Mirror came in 1997, two years after The White Balloon, another movie with kids: that one had been remarkable. Was The Mirror just an attempt to live on the account of the previous movie? Well, no. First of all, the universe is very different in the two movies. The White Balloon pictures a world in fair tale tones: it's from the girl point of view. In The Mirror the universe is also interacting with the girl reaction, but it's clearly the universe of Tehran street, as it is really. It's a delight: it's a poem dedicated to the chaos and trepidation of the street of a large Mid Eastern city, where modernity and specificity collide.

Actually both movies are in some way deceptive. The kid story hides a deeper level. It is made known in The White Balloon just at the end. Here in The Mirror this deeper level enters the center of stage in the mid of the story. It does it abruptly: the girl declares out of the blue that she doesn't want to play any more in the movie! She just wants to leave and go home truly by herself! The incident takes place in a crowded bus, and suddenly we notice that there are no passengers there, just the crew surrounded by equipment. Director Jafar Panahi is in the bus, sited near the cameraman, and he doesn't know what the hell to do. He decides to follow anyway the girl with candid camera. As one of the reviewers observed, that moment makes the movie a masterpiece! We had in the first half Ciné-Vérité, now we have simply Vérité.

They faint to forget taking the mike back from the girl, so the camera will follow her and the sound will be captured. Sometimes the camera looses the girl, while the sound continues to be heard. Some other times we see the girl, but the sound is missing. On her way home the girl encounters an old lady who played in the first part and now is complaining about the conditions of filming, about the director, etc. A man recognizes the girl as he has seen the shooting of a scene two weeks earlier: we have seen the same scene twenty minutes ago, in the first part. We meet then the man who recommended the girl for the film production. And so we are forced to realize that the first part was a movie, while this second part is no more. What is it then? Well, it is kind of movie, of course: in the same time a movie about its own making and a movie deconstructing itself.

Two questions arise here. Firstly, is the first part a movie, or just reality caught with (candid) camera? Because everything seems too natural to be a movie. And secondly, is the second part reality caught with candid camera, or just a movie telling a story about a girl and a candid camera? Frankly, we'll never know.

So, beyond the story of the little girl, funny and interesting, beyond the universe of Tehran streets, remarkably rendered, there is the hidden level: The Mirror is interested to study the relation between movie and reality. Panahi is interested here in the issue tackled by Kiarostami in almost all his movies! The tile comes from this hidden level: for Panahi a movie is a mirror of the reality. And the mirror works in both ways: for Panahi also the reality is a mirror of the movie.

To analyze this relation I am tempted to use the Niebuhr model (see H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture). It could sound blasphemous, but I think we can see in the relationship between art and reality the same types that H. Richard Niebuhr discovered in the relationship between Christian religion and culture.

I think the way Panahi sees the relationship between movie and reality is in terms of paradox: movie and reality are different; the movie remains a prisoner of the reality, regardless of any efforts to escape; the reality remains prisoner of the movie, though it's unaware. That the movie is the prisoner of the reality, that we can grasp. Why is the reality, in turn, the prisoner of the movie? I think for two reasons: because of the Big Brother presence (what else is a candid camera?), also because it is in the nature of reality the tendency to embellish itself.

So the two categories, movie and reality, are condemned to live together, though each one tries to run away. A tragedy defined by a paradox. It's the way Luther or Kierkegaard were seeing the relationship between a Christian living his faith and the universe surrounding him.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Jafar Panahi must be recognized

Author: Lee Eisenberg ( from Portland, Oregon, USA
30 December 2010

Iranian director Jafar Panahi recently got arrested, charged with propaganda. He is sentenced to six years in jail and is banned from making movies for twenty years. This makes his 1997 movie "The Mirror" ("Ayneh" in Farsi) all the more interesting. The movie depicts a girl wandering Tehran's chaotic streets looking for her mother. Suddenly, she decides that she doesn't want to play the part anymore! First time that I've ever seen that happen in a movie.

The only other Panahi movie that I've seen is "Offside", about women getting kept from attending a soccer game, officially because the men's legs are showing. Judging by that, and by the conversations that the girl hears on the bus in "The Mirror", Panahi is not a director whose films really please Iran's authorities. There should be no doubt as to why he now languishes in jail. And above all, I truly recommend this movie.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Reflections out of Iran

Author: Artimidor Federkiel from Austria
7 February 2013

This is a film about a girl going home. Apparently her mother failed to pick our little heroine up, and the feisty second grader sets out to find her way through the asphalt jungle all by herself. Well, there's more to it of course. It's the asphalt jungle of Tehran and the film was directed by Jafar Panahi, one of the innovative film makers of the Iranian New Wave. Not that his latest works are allowed to be shown in his home country, mind you. Sentenced to a six-year jail term in 2010 and banned from directing he nevertheless defiantly made an iPhone production called "This Is Not a Film" about his situation and managed to smuggle it out of Iran and tell the world.

The Iranian situation as such is already portrayed firsthand in Panahi's early 1997 film. A representative of the next generation, a child, in the center, we witness its abandonment by the adults. We eavesdrop on them complaining, but not really listening, observe the gender segregation on public transport (albeit through an innocent perspective in between as the missing link), but in a sea of scarves, uniform looks and the all encompassing everyday turmoil one can barely get a glimpse of something one could call "individuality"... In the words of Panahi: Everyone is wearing a mask, plays a role. Thanks to the stark realism present in Iranian movies we become part of the life and the hustle and bustle therein, get sucked in by following the odyssey through a child's eye. And we'll reach a point in the film where a clever twist cranks it all even up a notch. Thus a very real situation turns even more real and it results in a powerful reflection with a double meaning, within the film and outside of it. As in his preceding picture "The White Balloon", also centering on a cast of children, the tone in Panahi's "The Mirror" is light, and the film is entertaining throughout, yet layered and thought-provoking. There's someone who stands up to find a way, lost, but determined, wandering around in need for directions. But there's a fundamental difference between directions and direction, as the viewer might notice. No coincidence either that this someone we're talking about is a girl, the focus of some of Panahi's other works. Or let's say it that way: This is not a film... about a girl going home.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

"How she rebels and who she rebels against is what turns this film into a masterpiece."

Author: shutterbug_iconium from Türkiye
10 December 2005

A child (Mina Mohammad Khani) waits in vain for her mother to pick her up after school. Whether she tries to resolve the dilemma herself or asks for help from the adult world, this serious little girl confronts dead-ends. At first She asks help from a motorcycle driver and the guy gives her a lift to the bus-stop then she takes the wrong bus so on and on.She challenges the adult world. "If you can show me the way I can go by myself" is a repeated line in the movie but the adult world does regard her either weak or it doesn't care about her.The close camera shot right on the little girl is very good really and the performance of this little girl deserves a standing ovation. Great job! The only thing is that I felt that the movie lacks a little bit action through the turmoil of urban life. The director focuses on littler girl more than necessary I guess. We hear some external voices (like the people on the bus) but the camera is always on the girl so this feels a little bit passive. Other than that it's really great!

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Pure cinematic experience

Author: inioi from Spain
12 December 2015

This is a pure concept: Director has chosen to play with two resources: camera and sound. No music, no SFX.

The story itself is quite surprising.

Sometimes, the lower the budget, the greater the creativity. The border between documentary and film is blurred, so the sense of "reality" is quite present and remains till the end.

The director also plays with the audience: there is a certain point when the viewer feels to be misplaced.

As Rene Magritte's painting "la Vengeance", in which the artist does not accept the inherent limitations of his art, he dares to paint outside the easel, that way Jafar Panahi goes beyond the usual simple structure of the movies.

Just for "independent advanced" movie goers.


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