“Reflection” is a film depicting harassment at the workplace. The story shows a new employee repeatedly violated by her boss as her fellow employee does nothing to intervene. The refusal to speak up enables continuous harassment and traps the victim in a position where she lacks any power. The #MeToo movement was a major inspiration for issues explored throughout the film along with the idea that oppression is rampant when those present choose to remain silent.
The theme is conveyed through two main approaches. The first being a display of the absence of mercy and compassion. Rather than portraying a story highlighting the undeniable benefits resulting from exercising compassion, we want the film to present the unfortunate realities rooted in remaining silent in the face of oppression.
The film explores the relationship between the bystander’s hesitancy to speak up and the perpetual harassment by the boss occurring in the office. This combination leaves the victim helpless, vulnerable and validates a mindset of self-blame.
In addition, the film hopes to promote the idea of self-accountability. Often, summoning the strength of compassion is associated with calling out an oppressor or abuser despite fear. While that is extremely important, we often forget to check ourselves in matters concerning justice. The bystander in the film wrongfully remains silent, but he does acknowledge his partaking in harassment at the workplace. Ultimately, his self-assessment relays the idea that a major component of upholding justice lies in the strength to hold oneself accountable.
We hope the audience realizes that mercy is not only displaying compassion while in a position of power, but it also encompasses the courage and strength to stand up to those in power regardless of the consequences. A single voice condemning oppression truly can decide whether justice prevails. The lack of action surrounding those who are abused creates an atmosphere normalizing oppression and silences victims. Therefore, those simply watching any form oppression taking place are guilty as well. Assessing oneself is the only way to actively speak against injustice.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the film with regards to relaying the theme is the mirror reveal indicating that the bystander was confronting himself throughout the entire film. This scene truly embodies the idea of self-accountability in the presence of injustice while also acknowledging the harm caused by remaining silent.
The verbal onslaught against himself is perceived to be towards the perpetrator throughout most of the film. By revealing that he was, in fact, confronting his own reflection, it is made apparent that the silent onlookers are just as guilty as those orchestrating the harassment.