Daniel (Jamie Bacon) has had his troubles recently, all the more so after his beloved mother (Nicole Evans) passed away as he has never been close to his father (Carl Russell). Daniel has escaped to London where he has taken an office job, but finds the relentlessly chummy atmosphere stifling, no matter how good he is at what is required of him, and his boss (John Sackville) in particular is the epitome of the aggressively macho, toxic office culture. But there is one person there who seems to understand that he is not the most comfortable worker there, and she is Blu (Beatrice May), so when on an office night out she invites him to a club where she believes he will be more happy, he has mixed feelings about turning her down. But the lure of Daniel's deep-seated personality is calling to him...
Actors Bacon and Charles Streeter teamed up to write this screenplay, which started as a short until artist Lois Stevenson decided it could be expanded to feature length. Mind you, that was only just, as it lasted barely over an hour as it was, exposing it as an extended short rather than a truncated, er, long. It was clear the visual aspect was what interested her in the main, for that was where the piece's strength lay, not least because Daniel remained too much of an enigma from start to finish, aside from one nicely played scene where he and drag queen Jennifer (Streeter) met on the stairs of the club and finally the deeply repressed young man opened up emotionally to someone other than his mother. Not before time, we are meant to think, but then things went all symbolic again, and obscure, too.
For one thing, though the hero is clearly wanting to dress up as a woman, your guess is as good as mine if that means he is gay, a transvestite, or a transsexual or even some further variation on that complicated knot of desires that is human gender. The film did not appear keen to make it too apparent either, maybe to widen its appeal by not being pinned down to any one interpretation: you did get the impression that a scene or two where Daniel started off on an "I am woman, hear me roar!" rant, or went the comedy route and camped it up, for instance, would have been a mistake and it was just as well that we were left with more questions than answers. The downside to that was he became something of a cypher where you could apply any sort of persona to him depending on your own leanings.
The most famous name in the credits was Richard E. Grant, on board in a production capacity, but it was unlikely this would give Into the Mirror a huge profile. It was more comfortable as an indie for a specialised market, and perhaps its vagueness would be a bonus for a particular type of audience who liked to place their own interpretations on characters in movies. What was in no doubt was that Stevenson was in her element when it came to the imagery, especially when it let rip with the experimental arthouse material come the final third, making more concrete Daniel's previous lost evening when he visited the club for the first time, but managed to wipe the experience from his memory. The pressure to conform was in the office scenes (is boss Harry interested in him sexually, we muse?), while the "be yourself" freedom was set loose in the club, but how much of this was fantasy and how much was happening was another murky point, narratively if not visually. Still, the colours! The woozy electro pop soundtrack! Courtesy of Johnny Jewel.