The manufacturers of the paykan owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the creators of The Mirror. That’s because for much of the film that’s all we see. Red paykans, white paykans, paykan taxis, paykans from the side, paykans from behind, close-ups of paykans, battered paykans, well-maintains paykans. It got so that I was damn-near giddy when the occasionally motorbike whizzed by.
The film has a quirky narrative structure that pivots on young star Mina Mohammad-Khani’s abrupt announcement that she doesn’t want to act anymore. It starts out as story about a first-grader who tries to navigate the busy streets of Tehran to make her way home after her mother fails to pick her up from school. After Mohammad-Khani quits it becomes a story about her navigating the busy streets of Tehran. The filmmakers decide to leave her mic on and follower her as she travels homeward. It’s then that the meaning of the title, The Mirror becomes clear. It’s about twenty minutes later that it becomes clear that a better title would have been Watching Traffic in Tehran.
The film does include some mildly amusing bits of overheard dialog, like when a man the main character shares a cab with says to his wife, “Women are no slaves, but they should run the house otherwise men will become the slaves.” Or when a nattering and wizened old woman explains that her kids want to put her in an old age home and she says, “Look at me. Do I look like I belong in such a place?”
On her journey home the girl meets one unhelpful adult after another and it made me think that maybe the point here is that finding your way in life is a solitary endeavor, or maybe the whole thing was a metaphor for the primordial longing for order amid chaos, or maybe it was a story about how just when you think you’ve found you’re way you can find out that you’re just as lost as you ever were. I don’t know. Frankly, I’m just glad it’s over.