The Mirror is an interesting look at someone called a “lifestreamer” – that is, someone who posts about their day-to-day lives online, particularly in video format. A filmmaker, William Dickerson, finds a lifestreamer named Taylor and becomes fascinated by his lifestreaming ways, seeks him out, and begins to film him for a documentary. The result is a pseudo-documentary that looks at Taylor’s life and that of Dickerson in his attempt to make a serviceable film.
The concept is, as I said, interesting. The film did not completely hold my attention in its 90 minute run, but it did have some thought-provoking moments. We first see Dickerson talking about his love of him and his previous film, Detour. Next, we see clips of Taylor Dickerson has found online in which Taylor recreates scenes from famous movies such as Network, The Field of Dreams, and Taxi Driver. Dickerson convinces Taylor to let him film him with his own camera, thus taking away some of Taylor’s control over his own likeness. This will ultimately lead to conflict between the two.
Another point of contention is when Taylor meets a young woman he likes, Ellen. She is miffed by constantly being filmed and does not understand Taylor’s obsession with appearing on camera and posting his life story on a website. Ultimately, she will make up with him, but their rocky relationship does provide some “real” moments in an otherwise “unreal” film.
Dickerson has called this a “metafictional” film but he does not want to define what that means. To me, it is a film that is ultimately fictional but that purports to be realistic. It is shot and delivered as a documentary when it seems so clearly to not be one. Taylor makes a fascinating subject to be sure, and his retelling of an event with his abusive father takes him one step closer to being “real” in front of a camera. Unfortunately for all involved, Taylor’s brother shows up and proclaims that the abusive event happened to him and not to Taylor which takes the winds of out Dickerson’s sails.
The film has a captivating subject matter in filming a “lifestreamer” and Taylor makes a good subject; for that matter, Dickerson makes a good director. But the film ultimately left me cold as I could never really relate to either Taylor or Dickerson. I liked the concept but was disappointed with the execution. I hope to see something else of Dickerson’s someday that really gets at the heart of people who put themselves online for others to gorge themselves on.