In Hazuki Aikawa’s short film Reflection, fashion model Alex (Jake Mestre) looks back on growing up with his single mother Tara (Leah Cogan). Tara loves and supports young Alex (James Ciccarelle) as he finds an affinity for Tara’s makeup and dresses, but it is not always as easy as she lets on. Wanting to stay supportive, but also afraid of how Alex might be accepted or shunned by other kids his age, and society at large, Tara is confused and conflicted, but always loving.
An honest and unflinching portrayal of a mother caught between society’s ideas of “normal” and the happiness of her child, Reflection doesn’t stray into melodrama or falseness. The film presents its tale simply, yet gorgeously, not seeking to hit you over the head with sentiment or preach a message.
To the “gorgeous” point, the cinematography is wonderful; the film looks good, is well-composed. It’s a film where you can just drift into the experience of the story and get comfortable with little effort. I’m not sure it needs to be as long as it is, but I’d be hard-pressed to come up with too many instances of tightening that don’t disrupt the mood of the piece.
Overall, I like that the film offers an honest take, and that Tara is not unflinching in her support for Alex. Many of her fears are for Alex, of course, but she has her own issues with how she’s being seen as a parent; an insecurity that is potentially present in any one raising a child. The truth and universality of it all connects, elevating the film.
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