Review and Interview: FACES IN THE MIRROR

By Laurie Coker

Rating: C+/B-

Phone interviews, while better than no interview, don’t always excite me. I like meeting folks’ face-to-face and watching expressions and taking photos. But I have to say, I did get a little excited to speak to Boyd Tinsley of Dave Matthews Band who wrote and produced Faces in the Mirror, a feature-length musically charged, drama about forgiveness and loss. While I wish I had seen the film on the big screen (where it should be viewed), after talking Boyd, I took away more from the film than I ever thought I would.

As noted, I watched Faces in the Mirror at home, but I have a decent television. Still from the onset, I felt overly disconnected, so when I spoke to Tinsley, I told him that I might have missed out, by not seeing his film in a movie house. Delighted, he said “exactly! It is meant to be an experience,” Boyd says, “like a dream.” He wants the audience to follow the protagonist, Ben Fisher (Ryan Orr) “on his journey of self-discovery forgiveness,” to understand through the music what Ben is feeling and experiencing. Fortunately, Orr has a remarkable ability to show this through facial expressions and simple mannerisms.

Faces in the Mirror is extremely limited in dialogue and what is said is narrow and succinct, never interfering with the story or the monumental film’s score.  Interestingly, as Boyd told me, he actually scored the film before ever seeing a script – in fact, a script never existed. He had a “vision,” and creating a score first “just made sense.” Boyd, who laughingly compared his film to “The Artist and silent films of the past,” felt driven to create this movie. Join by his DMB band mates, Shawn Smith of Brad and the Seattle band Maktub, Tinsley’s intense, percussion-heavy soundtrack drives the story of a remorseful Fisher, who returns home to attend his estranged father’s funeral. Often in our phone conversation, Boyd referred to a bonfire scene, one spattered with swift shots of flames, intermingling bodies, almost erotic movements and extreme close-ups of faces. In it the lead character encounters a dream-like sequence in step with a thundering, rhythmic backbeat where we watch as he transitions between the past and the present.

Tinsley told me that Orr, who he greatly admires, called Faces in the Mirror a psychedelic drama, making me think of films like Pink Floyd’s The Wall, another, albeit very different, film created by a musical artist. The Wall however, had a screenplay and was based on the band’s album of the same name. Still, I tend to agree with Orr, Faces in the Mirror, is not, by anyone standards, a typical drama, and it is far from a simple music video. No, Tinsley’s film might just have created a new niche.

I’d like to say I love, Boyd’s film, especially after speaking to him, but I did not, mainly because I found the Fisher’s ordeal dark and depressing. I do, however, appreciate the creativity and passion that went into the project. Faces in the Mirror is a film that MUST be followed by conversation. The more I talked to its creator, the more I realized I need to see the film as it is meant to be seen – on the largest screen possible, in a concert style venue, with an exceptional sound system, and I need to take someone (preferably a music aficionado) to discuss the experience – and the soundtrack. I even suggested to Boyd that he bring it to Austin’s Moody Theatre on Willie Nelson Street downtown. He jotted down the name and thanked me for the suggestion, telling me I “get it.”

Even more so after the fact, I wish I could have spoke to Boyd in person. He seems a decent, down-to-earth guy, whose passion is apparent even over a phone. He has big plans for his creation, and I’m guessing he will bring it to Austin in a huge way, but we will see. I am placing a C+/B- in my grade book. I really am going to see it again, with Boyd’s fervent words in my mind.



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