Sunday, November 6, 2005

I don't want to be a waiter!

by Suw on November 6, 2005

Some films are easy to sum up in a sentence. I always describe my script as 'Buffy meets Highlander in Reading', which neatly encapsulates the fantasy sword-weilding twisted suburban nature of the story and generally results in people saying 'Aaaah. I seeeee' in that knowing way that means they've never watched Buffy, can't remember Highlander and haven't been to Reading. (Lucky sods.)
Failing that sort of easy, pithy summation of the nature of the film, one can fall back on simple descriptions of the plot: Guy meets girl. Guy looses girl. Guy fights zombies. Guy wins girl back. Guy and girl live happily ever after with zombified best friend living in the garden shed. Sweet.
MirrorMask, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's first feature film, does not really submit to either tactic:
MirrorMask is like… um… well sort of like… except no, not really. Maybe a bit like… er… well… actually not at all.
MirrorMask starts off with a girl who wants to run away from the circus and then her mum falls ill and then… well… it's just really hard to describe what happens then. Not without horrifically long and involved explanations which would do more to completely ruin the film for you than tease you into going, which is what I would rather do.
So this means I end up having to fall back on adjectives and, as Valentine indicates to the Orbiting Giants, adjectives just don't cut the mustard.
No. I don't think so. I don't want people think I'm sucking up to Mr Gaiman.
If you know Neil and Dave's work already, then you're probably really looking forward to seeing MirrorMask anyway, and there's probably not much I could say to sway you either way. Not that I would want to talk anyone out of seeing it, of course, because I think it's a wonderful film. As one would expect from a Dave McKean film, it's as beautiful and lush and delightful (damn adjectives) as you would expect, with a fabulous performance from Stephanie Leonidas as Helena. Stephanie was there at the screening, along with Dave McKean (!!squeee!!), and my god, that girl is skinny. I had to fight down the impulse to run over and thrust a sandwich into her hand.
The story is 100% Gaiman, as dreamlike and fairytaleish as you can get, but without ever losing the feeling that something real is happening, something important, something life-changing. There are, of course, echoes from Neil's past – the Tower is like a souped-up Baba Yaga but without the witchiness, and Helena reminds me of Timothy Hunter from Books of Magic, and the feel of it is more than a little Mr Punch.
But if you don't know Neil and Dave already, if that last paragraph made mainly no sense, then you should seize the very first opportunity you get to go and see MirrorMask. Don't ask questions, don't think about it, just do it. And you'll have to just take my word for it that it's worth it.
(And failing that, read my friend Steve's proper review, which is much, much better than my paltry effort.)

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