Every once in a while, we come across a representation of the human condition that is so simple yet significant that it astounds us as to how much more there is to explore within the topic. There is something to be said about how just a simple insight is much more significant to a story than oodles and oodles of VFX, machismo, and unnecessary theatrics. “Mirror, Mirror” (or “Espejo, Espejo” in Spanish) primarily follows four individuals—Alvaro, Alberto, Christine, and Paula—as they battle with their inner voices, represented through their reflections in the mirror. We wouldn’t call the movie complex, but it is layered. Let us dive into how this unfolds on screen.
The Protagonist’s Struggles With Their Inner Selves
It is often said that our first instinct is what we have been conditioned to do, and the second is who we really are. That is the basis of the movie and is equal parts tragic and liberating because when it comes together with the motto “Be free, be you,” is it really going to be a good thing? “Mirror, Mirror” starts with an encounter between Alvaro and another woman who works in his office. After they spend the night together, as they are assessing themselves in their privacy, the woman thinks about how she did not like the experience, but Alvaro is convinced that she might just fall in love with him. The next scene cuts to Paula making a video for her company’s 50th anniversary, in which she has included members from her office and given it a really inclusive look. Her sister, Cristine, cautions her that it might not go down too well with the company heads of “Medina Cosmetics,” but Paula ignores her. Cristine’s inner voice is that of caution but also reassuring of her place in life. When she wonders whether she should go to her therapist again, her voice tells her that she is perfectly fine. This is also a representation of what stops a lot of people from seeking help, because there is nothing visibly wrong. Paula, on the other hand, has an inner voice that tells her that she can do no wrong and anybody who contradicts her is either jealous or just bitter.
The next day, as expected, Alvaro is not fond of the video and asks Paula to take it down immediately. That upsets her enough to start crying. One of the office people, Alberto, who is also featured in the video, tries to comfort her. He has a secret crush on her and is generally a meek person who everybody seems to take advantage of. His inner voice is that of a highly critical person who keeps telling him that he is not good enough. Back to the video: despite Alvaro’s rejection, he receives word from his boss Ernesto that the President of the company has liked it a lot and wants them to come up with a strategy to back it up. Alvaro is at a complete loss and asks Paula what he can do for his own presentation. This is probably the moment he starts breaking down. His inner voice is tired of him always talking about himself and hates that all they do is talk about him. This is a representation of the phrase “too full of himself.” Alvaro’s nature forces his reflection to just quit him, as in, he is left without a reflection. With that goes his sense of self-importance that he has stuffed himself up with for years. At the meeting with the President, he is unable to present the strategy properly. Ernesto prompts Paula to take over, and she is an instant success with the board.
Alvaro struggles with the loss of his reflection when he runs into Alberto. Seeing the possibility, he asks his own reflection to leave. The result is a person who thinks he owns the world. He is not meek anymore, but he is just as insufferable. He invites the receptionist, Antonia, to the office party but neglects to be there to receive her. Antonia has her own inner voice that constantly tells her to burn everything down and reminds her of the pleasure of doing so. She says it reminds her of when she burned a parakeet and three chickens and loved that smell. But Antonia pushes down the voice. When Alberto invites her to the party, it is a win for her as it proves that her inner voice was wrong all along, and the people are actually good. Meanwhile, Cristine is going through struggles of her own. Her reflection has been replaced by that of “Cristian,” and he wants Cristina to listen to him. This is who she really is, who she has always been, but she has pushed it away for way too long. When she goes back to her therapist after four years, she is mad at her for cutting short their visits this way and refuses to treat her. As Cristine struggles more and more with her identity, she finds her way to a dress shop to buy something for the party. There, Cristian is successfully subdued, but her reflection doesn’t feel as reassuring as before. She needed that to protect her in her childhood, but the consequence of faking a lie for so long was depression. She makes her way to the hairdresser and finds that there is a party in full swing. With sufficient alcohol in her, she strikes up a conversation, she strikes up a conversation with one of the workers there—Pol—and asks him to cut her hair just like him.
On the other hand, Alvaro is having a breakdown of his own. His belief in him being the best comes from his mother. She has placed him on a pedestal his whole life, which has made him very complacent with his mediocrity without ever confronting it. Accepting that he is not that great after all is the moment when his world crumbles around him, and he doesn’t know who he is anymore.
At the office party, Paula gives her speech, and Alvaro takes a backseat. Cristine shows up completely drunk but as her true self. She is wearing binders, has cut her hair very short, and is calling herself Cristian now. Alberto starts singing a love song, which he dedicates to Paula and tries to kiss her, but she says no. Amidst it all, Antonia, having been denied entry to the party, is done with being ignored and invisible and sets fire to the room. As the people are escaping, Paula and Antonia’s eyes meet, and she whispers, “Be free, be you. It is as if she has cast a spell because the images of our protagonists get distorted.
‘Mirror, Mirror’ Ending Explained: What Happens To Alvaro, Alberto, Cristine, And Paula’s Reflections?
Evidently, the reflections take over the characters. Let us start with Paula. She is being offered a position by the company, and she recommends the capitalistic strategy of ever-to-co-opt the theme of “freedom of expression” to sell their makeup without making any real change. She gets the job. Let’s take a second to understand Paula. She has never had her father’s approval, and she was always told that she was “lazy” like her mother. We don’t have much backstory about that, but it looks like the very thing that kept Cristine from being who she truly is, is what made Paula develop a god complex. She truly believes that she is better than everyone else because she believes that there is beauty in every person. But she herself doesn’t believe in it, as was evident by her trying to unnecessarily tell Maria Carmen that she was beautiful. That monologue was cringe as hell and fooled nobody except Alberto, who just wanted his crush’s approval. Starved for acceptance from her parents, Paula made it her entire personality to be as accepting of everyone as possible—a good idea but with the wrong intention, which just pushed people further away from the real conversation. Her inner voice, though, was under no such delusions. She knew what the reality of Cristine was and brought it to the fore.
For Alvaro and Cristine, letting their reflections take over was the best thing to happen to them. Cristine can finally be who she wants to be, one step at a time. Alvaro needs to find out who he is as a person, and he has to start the journey from scratch. Alberto, however, has turned away from his reflection. He is the only one that looks away from him in the end. His was the only reflection that hated him. Alberto has never liked himself but has always wanted to be at the top of the world. He has no use for the pushover side of himself. Therefore, when his reflection takes over, he buries that part of himself by turning away from it. As the camera zooms out, the screen turns dark with just the people and their reflections visible. This could be representative of the fear and uncertainty felt by the characters right before they start their lives as their authentic selves.
Final Thoughts: What Works For ‘Mirror, Mirror’ Film?
“Mirror, mirror” is one of the more intelligent movies we have seen in recent times. Richard Bach once said that when we look in the mirror, what we see is not who we are. The makers understood the assignment. The movie does not waste time at all and cleverly blends irony into its narrative. It’s not a feat that is easily accomplished, but this does it with finesse. It’s just a matter of consideration that sometimes, between the people we hate and those we love, the former might be the better of the lot. We love “Mirror, Mirror,” and it deserves a lot more hype than it is getting right now. All our friends are going to be badgered into watching it while we pray that our film industry closer to home takes notes. We look forward to more such movies and hope that they keep them coming every time we can’t make up our minds about what to watch on Netflix.
“Mirror, Mirror” (or “Espejo, Espejo”) is a 2022 Drama Comedy film directed by Marc Crehuet.