The Mimic is a 2020 comedy film written and directed by Thomas F. Mazziotti. Inspired by true events, the protagonist (who shall remain nameless) befriends his neighbor and quickly speculates that he may be a sociopath. Obsessed with exposing the new neighbor and his wife, antics ensue.
Story v. character. The two main characters are only referred to as, “The Narrator” (Thomas Sadoski) and “The Kid” (Jake Robinson). We learn these two characters' names in the final scene, but I won’t reveal them. It is important for the audience’s understanding of these characters, that they don't have separate names. The two characters are two halves of a whole, acting as each other’s foil and mirror at the same time. They are both the protagonists and antagonists. These characters take greater importance than the story, which isn't structured in a familiar way. Instead of a classic three-act structure, the film is strung together with a series of comedic dialogue-centered vignettes. Due to this, The Mimic at times feels more like a recorded play than a movie.
The cinematography. Usually, the cinematography in a comedy is unremarkable at best, and lazy at worst. In The Mimic, however, the camera is an active participant in the storytelling throughout. There are plenty of visually interesting shots and even some split focus diopter shots (when a subject in the foreground and a subject in the background are both in focus at the same time). The cinematographer, Tim Gillis, really brought a unique flair to this atypical story.
The sets. Aiding in the look of the film to a similar degree as cinematography, the production designer and set decorator brought something special as well. The set design was as flamboyant and busy as the characters. From rooms filled with lush plants — to deep red, royal-looking restaurant bathrooms — each set is decorated to engage the eye. The thoughtful production design was done by Laura Miller. Each character is reflected by their personal spaces. It is even pointed out that one character hides his true self and so his home goes out of its way to not reveal anything about his character.
Overdone. The film lacks all subtlety. The acting is exaggerated. Every actor acts like they know they’re acting in a comedy. Every joke is delivered as a joke — instead of something normal in the movie’s world that the audience — in our separate dimension, laughs at. It’s not just the performances but the script itself. The banter between characters, though funny, feels unnatural. I found the score to be excessive — it’s sitcom music incessantly playing in the background and it's rarely necessary. It makes scenes seem like a commercial instead of a film. The humor as well — the fourth wall breaks and meta-references are great in moderation but when they are constant, it starts to feel less witty. These inordinate aspects are subjective though. To one, it may be too much and to another, it may be considered as perfect in terms of stylistic choices.