The Female Gaze (literally)

Joan Fontaine’s chilling “mirror moment” in the astonishing Ivy (1947). (Joan Fontaine? Playing an evil woman? Really?? YES.) In this moment, dressed in mourning for her husband – who died somewhat mysteriously – hmmm – she avoids looking in her own eyes in the mirror. And then … she can’t help it. You know me and mirror moments. I collect them like a miser. I could have predicted there’d be a mirror moment in Ivy, because mirror moments work so well in material like this, where someone who spends their life lying, or acting a part, is left alone, the mirror beckons (and it’s a great storytelling device, giving us a private moment, where the guard is dropped). This is a really good mirror moment, especially the way she avoids as hard as she can looking at herself – because … she’s a terrible person, really, and has done a terrible thing, and she knows it. The truth of what she has done – and who she is – will be waiting for her in the reflection.

(Streaming now on Criterion. I can’t believe I’ve never seen this before. It’s so GOOD.)

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