Since its inception, film has been, for the most part, the chicken soup of artistic mediums. This is not to lessen the impact of the great works, but merely to point out that most of the material made for public display is of the light entertainment variety. Given that most films made opt for the Hollywood Ending and sending the audience home happy it is a nice change of pace to see a film as comfortable in its depravity as Ivan Kavanagh’s “Reflections”. However as impressive as the visuals and overall mood of dread of “Reflections” are, the film never manages to be as thoroughly shocking as it aims to be.
Father (Gerry Shanahan) is in a bit of a tough spot seeing how his wife is slowly dying of facial cancer and he has just been fired from his job as a janitor. His only source of relief comes from the comfort of prostitutes and forcing himself onto his Daughter (Roisin McCauley). In addition to being sexually assaulted by her own father Daughter’s life is in turnaround as she finds herself becoming a street walker as she attempts to deal with the multiple miseries in her life.
There is so little joy to be found in “Reflections” that the piece frequently comes off as too cold. Reminiscent of Gasper Noe’s “I Stand Alone” Kavanagh’s film is filled with characters acting in extreme manners to compensate for the sadness around them but lacks’s Noe’s ability to effectively show his characters trapped in a their mundane existence beforehand. Noe’s butcher character acts depraved as a way of striking out against his go nowhere life but Noe is able to clearly show the viewer how hopleless that life is. In “Reflections” Kavanagh and company show in gruesome detail Father and Daughter’s reaction to their horrid lives but there is an absence of buildup. What we are presented with is an hour of brutal payoffs to a story which has not been allowed the chance to develop. Father never manages to come off as a three dimensional character and when Daughter is violated the viewer has no emotional connection to her.
While impressive in its unyielding depression, take no prisoners attitude and striking visual composition “Reflections” works best showing off Ivan Kavanagh’s multiple talents and acting as a calling card for his future projects.