There are two choices: the selfish one and the selfless one. In the first one, you and only you win, in the second one, everyone, except you, wins. Which one would you go for?
We ask ourselves the questions above, way more often than we really like to admit, and those are the questions spanish director Paulo Oriol ask himself in the european thriller Mirage, one of the Netflix additions for the beginning of the 2019 spring season.
But, in addition to its thriller parameters, Mirage includes one more mind-blowing element – time loops. So, if you were left with more questions than answers, once the credits roll, do not worry because 1) you are not the only one, and 2) we are gonna solvo those questions right away, and with no further ado, here in this post ¡Let’s explain!
1 | Does Mirage have any post-credit scenes?
Mirage is the kind of film that can not end just like this, without any explanation about what happened at the end, or isn’t it? Well, actually it is not. The film does end without any post-credit scenes. So if you expect an explanatory note at the end of the movie, in the same vibe as every single Disney superhero flick, you’re going to be really disappointed.
2 | Where and when do the events of Mirage take place?
The story of Mirage takes place in Barcelona, Spain, at two chronological points separated by 20 years, the first one- whose protagonist is Nico Lasarte (Julio Bohigas-Couto) – starting the day the Berlin Wall fell, on 9 November 1989. And the second one- whose protagonist is Vera Roy (Adriana Ugarte) – starting on November 9, 2009.
Now, there are several licenses that the scriptwriters took with this specific work of fiction, starting with the fact that Barcelona Metro System does not have a station called Valpineda, and that the Vallpineda urbanization, with double l, is quite far from any station of train or subway.
3 | What exactly is that weird storm in Mirage?
When Clara Medina (Nora Navas), Aitor’s mother (Miquel Fernández), sees the storm in 2009, she tells her son that it is the same storm she saw years ago.
The fact that the storm is the same implies that it is an object that transcends the temporal dimension, being present in two temporal moments simultaneously. This quality that does exist in the universe we can perceive and that is understood under the string theory, explains why it is possible that there is communication between 1989 and 2009, the storm acts as a channel of communication between both time points, by the means of electromagnetic waves, capable of affecting the electric flow and even electronic devices.
4 | What happened to Nico Lasarte in the beginning?
The night the Berlin Wall fell, Nico had been left alone at home, after his mother was informed she had to work a shift. The boy was using his camcorder and the tv set to record his musical covers and thus to cement his dream of being a great rock star.
But when he was about to start, Nico hears wear noises coming from the house in the front, the house of Ángel Prieto (Javier Gutiérrez) and Hilda Weiss (Clara Segura). The kid decides to leave his house and break into the house of the noises and he discovers Hilda’s body.
Nico flees in terror after being surprised by Angel and he is hit by an ambulance. Angel’s guilt or perhaps police inquiries forced the killer to confess and reveal that he had taken his wife’s life. This is Timeline 1 .
5 | How did Vera Roy and Nico Lasarte communicate through the tv set?
Despite being separated by 20 years, the unique quality of the storm allowed the electromagnetic waves generated in both 1989 and 2009 to cross through time allowing an effective communication.
The point is that the instant Vera communicates with Nico, a second timeline is created: Timeline 2 .
6 | What happened to Nico after he “videocalled” Vera?
When Timeline 2 was created , the events that we saw in Timeline 1 are modified. Vera manages to prevent Nico from going to Angel’s house and when he eventually goes out he avoids being run over by the ambulance. Nico initially believes that he has dreamed with her, the woman from the future, who lives in her own home. But then he realizes that he was told the truth, when a lightning strikes his school and suddenly classes are suspended.
Nico tries to communicate with Vera again but it is impossible and eventually decides to take a look at Angel’s house, where besides the noises, other strange things have happened. Upon entering, she realizes that Hilda has not gone anywhere, but she is dead and then he sees Angel cutting her body into pieces, to get rid of it.
Nico hides under a bed, not to be surprised by Angel and ends up finding a gold watch.
7 | What actually happened at Ángel Prieto’s house that caught Nico’s attention?
The noises that caught Nico’s attention the night the Berlin Wall fell were the consequence of a threesome where coincidentally one of the three parties did not know there was gonna be one… in her house, and starring her husband and one of her neighbors… when she was not going to be in the house.
Angel, despite being married to Hilda Weiss, had a romantic relationship with Clara Medina, one of his neighbors. Weiss tried to confirm her husband’s infidelity by inventing a visit outside the city and a false block on the return road. Angel took the opportunity to invite Clara to spend the night with him at home.
What neither Angel nor Clara knew, is that Weiss had not left Barcelona, and when they were already in action, the legitimate wife entered the house and brought a knife to the room of deceit, where then she surprised her husband and his lover in the middle of the foreplay.
Ángel tried to defend himself against Hilda’s aggression, but in the middle of the altercation, Clara took the knife from the rightful wife, and Angel accidentally ends up pushing her against the sharp object.
What is surprising is not that after such a scandal Nico has heard something, what is really surprising Nico was the only one who noticed such a scuffle.
8 | What was Angel and Clara’s plan to cover up the murder?
We are still in Timeline 2 . It turns out that in the middle of her foreplay activities with Angel, Clara dropped her gold watch, which must have cost a fortune or have some incalculable sentimental value keeping in mind what happened afterwise.
Angel and Clara planned to cover up the murder on two fronts: getting rid of the body and impersonating Hilda in order to have an infallible alibi, just in case.
Angel had to use a chainsaw to dissect Hilda’s body, put the pieces in a suitcase and bury the suitcase in the Prieto Slaughterhouse. The he had to get a false passport, air tickets and also Hilda’s credit cards, so Clara could pretend it was her. For this they counted with the help of Roman.
Román was an employee at the airport and was in charge of checking passports for passengers. So when Clara showed up in front of him with a fake passport, Roman simply turned a blind eye and let her pass. He was, after all, the only one who knew about the clandestine relationship of the murderous couple.
9 | And what happened to the clock Nico found?
The only blemish on Angel and Clara’s plan had was Nico. More precisely Nico’s statement to the police, specifying how Angel brutally cut his wife’s body into tiny pieces, carrying the gold watch as a proof.
But, since Angel had already set the whole thing in motion, there was no corpse and Hilda was listed in a flight plan to Germany and then spending money in the Deutschland, the police discarded Nico’s story and recommended him to hand over the clock, which they qualified as a circumstantial proof, that is to say that it did not prove anything.
Then Nico was sent to a psychiatrist. Angel and Clara got married, and they raised Aiter together.
10 | What happened to Nico in Timeline 2? Why did he change his name?
Good thing is that, in contrast with Timeline 1, in Timeline 2 he was alive. In a madhouse, but alive. Vera saved his life. But the triple traumatic experience of having seen a woman from the future, then having seen a man cutting a corpse with a chainsaw, and having been taken as a crazy liar by the police, led the boy to an asylum for mentally ill people. There he had to pretend that neither the woman of the future, nor the corpse existed so he could finally live a moderately normal life, together with his mother.
Now, the experience in the asylum as such and the chance of finding the woman of the future, led him to change his name, now it would be surnamed Leyra (Chino Darín).
11 | Who was Vera in the Timeline 1?
On Timeline 1 , Vera had met Aitor at the Valpineda station and from there, he introduced him to David Ortiz (Álvaro Morte), with whom Vera later got married and had a daughter named Gloria (Luna Fulgencio).
Vera worked as a nurse in a hospital, and had resigned her dream of being a doctor and neurosurgeon in favor of supporting David in his career and having a family.
12 | Who was Vera in Timeline 2?
Now, as in Timeline 2 Nico was not dead, and he became obsessed with meeting the woman of the future, having only the Valpineda station as his track, when he saw her he decided to take the place right in front of her on the train, avoiding her initial encounter with Aitor.
Having never met Aitor, Vera never met David, nor did she have the motivation to leave her professional dreams. And therefore she became a successful neurosurgeon.
On top of that, when she met Nico, and he seemed so devoted to her, they eventually started dating. So they ended up in a long-term relationship that ended up in marriage.
13 | Why did Vera wake up in another reality?
With the events of Timeline 1 truncated, Vera-mother ceased to exist in 2009, and was replaced by Vera-neurosurgeon. Logic would dictate that when creating a new timeline, Vera would not have to remember Timeline 1 at all, but apparently under the conditions of the storm, Vera becomes a constant.
Let me explain this a little. In mathematics, and consequently in physics, everything can be explained with formulas where there are variables and constants. In the physical phenomenon so sui-generis that the storm is, apparently the constant is Vera, which is logical because it was she who caused the change in the events through time. While the rest of the people, who were affected by their decision to save Nico, are the variables.
Then, under the conditions of the storm, everyone changes according to the change of events, but Vera remains constant. Very mathematical, right?
14 | What was it that Vera saw when she touched other people?
But even though Vera did not remember anything about her life on Timeline 2, she could access those memories in a gradual way by touching people. I do not want to dare to theorize about why this skill is given or what the consequences are, since in the film they give no indication, but what do you think?
15 | Why is the movie called Mirage?
In Vera’s research on Nico Lasarte, she realizes that there is a book that explains the phenomenon she is experiencing, the book written by Karen Sardon (Belén Rueda). Vera believes that Sardon may have some clue to Nico’s current whereabouts and that is why she decides to look for her. The name of the book is precisely that … Mirage.
16 | Why was Vera so desperate to find Nico Lasarte?
Because after talking to Karen Sardon and the woman explained that once the storm came to an end, the electromagnetic bridge that connects the two temporary points would be closed, Vera understood that she was about to lose any chance of seeing her daughter Gloria again and even worst, losing every memory of her.
The possibility that Sardon offered Vera was to get the camera and the tv set, and use them in the same room before the storm ends and do everything on their hands to not alter the events that lead to the birth of Gloria.
17 | What happened to the camera and the tv set in Timeline 2? And to David Ortiz?
David Ortiz continued his relationship with Ursula, and they ended up marrying. But then he decided Ursula was not enough and started cheating on her, with one of the nurses that also worked with Vera in the hospital.
Ortiz ends up buying with Ursula the same house that in Timeline 1 he bought with Vera, and there, in the same room where Nico recorded his music videos, was the camcorder and the television set.
When Nico Lasarte, as Inspector Leyra, received Vera in his office, he realized that she was not the woman he married but the woman from the future, and that she was obsessed with getting back her daughter Gloria.
Vera was obsessed with communicating with young Nico, and she was convinced that the only way to do it was through those devices. Being afraid to lose the life he knows, he decided to break in the house in which he lived as a child and steal the devices.
18 | Why does Vera decide to commit suicide?
On Timeline 2 , Vera, with her memories of Timeline 1 , finally discovers that Inspector Leyra is none other than the kid she saved through the television … Nico Lasarte, and that she had a long and stable relationship with him.
Nico asks her to consider staying on that timeline, as an option, refusing to reveal the location of the camcorder and the television. In view of the fact that the storm is at an hour and forty-five minutes to finish and that she does not have time to argue with him, Vera opts for the most radical option.
Vera takes her life, but not before reminding Nico that she had saved his. But she decided to do this because she knew how much Nico loved her, after touching him and she understood that he would do anything to save her, even lose his own life, altering time for a second time.
19 | What was it that the adult Nico told young Nico through the TV set?
Two things, the first one, do not report Angel to the police since that would have repercussions in Aitor, and therefore in the possibility of getting Gloria back and second one, to get back to his life forgetting the woman from the future, to be concentrated on growing up, without mentioning those events ever again.
The motivation Nico was able to give to his young self was the chance to see the woman from the future again, alive, but only if he does as he is told.
20 | What is the meaning of the movie Mirage?
Let’s break it into pieces:
20.1 Did Vera return to her original timeline?
No, at the end of the movie we see Timeline 3 , which looks a lot like Timeline 1 , only with some differences:
- Nico is still alive.
- Angel never went to jail.
- Angel married Clara and raised Aitor.
- It was never known what happened with Hilda Weiss.
However, Vera, being the constant, remembers everything as in Timeline 1, which is why she is very surprised to see the changes. This entanglement is best explained in the following graph:
20.2 What does the Arabesco matchbox mean?
But on Timeline 1 there are similarities with Timeline 2 and Timeline 3 , the main one being the Arabesco Hotel Matchbox. And in the three timelines David Ortiz is quite tuned to Clara Medina in his anxiety to be unfaithful to his partner, whoever it is.
David Ortiz lied to his wife telling him he was traveling, when in fact he stayed in Barcelona locked with Monica (Silvia Alonso), although the matter is much worse in Lines 1 and 3, because in those Monica is a colleague of Vera.
Eventually Vera will use the information to divorce David and stay with his daughter. She has learnt to be very patient and wise to keep the people she holds dear, her daughter and then Nico.
20.3 Why does Vera ask Nico not to report Angel’s crime?
Unlike what happened on Timeline 1, the original, on Timeline 2, Angel did not go to jail … he married Clara and formed a family with Aitor, just to be cornered by Nico adult and the Inspector Dimas discovering and verifying his involvement in the death of Hilda Weiss.
Now, Vera tells Nico adult, that the boy Nico must forget her and also forget to report Angel. This is very strange. If Vera wanted to keep Aitor’s life as close as possible to what it was originally, then Angel should go to jail and Clara should raise her son alone. Then why did Vera ask Nico to do it?
Well, in the first place Vera had already seen that even in a timeline in which Angel had raised Aitor, the latter was still living in Valpineda, he was still a pilot and he was still taking the train, so there were no problems on that side.
But the issue is that Nico had already intervened and changed things, so to try to adjust or rearrange things and above all, to remove Aitor from Nico, there should be some discomfort among the newly created family of adulterers and the child’s family. If Nico had stayed in Valpineda David would never have been Aitor’s best friend, with all the consequences that would bring.
20.4 How could Gloria be conceived again with so many changes?
The butterfly effect discussed in films related to alterations over time, says that even a minor change in a timeline causes substantial and definite changes. Under that assumption it would be unlikely that David and Vera would have conceived Gloria again, being infinitely more likely that another child or another girl had been born.
But there is another theory that indicates that even a hurricane, not the flutter of a butterfly, although it affects a timeline, eventually the time adjusts the information and the line tends to be indistinguishable to one in which the hurricane has never occurred. The concept is similar to what happens when a force pulls an elastic band and then retains its shape, or when a stone is thrown into the center of a lake, and the intensity of the waves decreases as they travel away from the blow.
Under this second assumption, although the effects of the interactions of Vera and Nico with the child Nico may have been very drastic in the first years, eventually the line would tend to be similar to the original, and she and David may in fact conceive the same girl.
21 | What does the final scene of the film in which Vera sees Leyra again mean?
Being more specific, the final scene in which we see that Vera unearthed the remains of Hilda Weiss in the Prieto Slaughterhouse, and then she meets Inspector Leyra … or rather, Nico Lasarte, and she says that eventually they are going to know each other well, it implies several things.
The first one is that on this Timeline 3, Angel and Clara are going to pay for the death of Hilda Weiss. The second one is that Nico managed to successfully forget his childhood traumas, having moved on. The third one is Vera had the clear intention of leaving Ortiz aside and going for Nico, because in fact, she was in love with him.
Finally Vera achieved everything she had set out to do, she saved Nico and she got her daughter back, with the added bonus of knowing that her husband was unfaithful and the memories of her romance with Nico. It was worth the sacrifice.
22 | What is the message left by the movie?
The absurdist philosophy expresses that the apparent absence of a universal purpose in the life of each individual can be addressed through the construction of meaning in decision making.
In simpler words, that your life acquires meaning and purpose through the decisions you make, and the moral coherence of them. Vera faces a brutal decision, save Nico’s life or save Gloria from oblivion in the vicissitudes of time – between being happy with the man she loves, and being happy with the daughter she loves.
In the end, she reaches the maximum achievement of absurdism that is to make a decision so precise that it achieves the maximum possible benefit, without sacrificing your essence and your coherence. Vera, faithful to her vocation as a healer, does not want to lose Nico to save her daughter or vice versa, she wants them both alive, but at times it seems impossible.
It is then that she, through a sacrifice and through a leap of confidence, takes the risk of taking her own life and maybe not returning, to allow the possibility of a reality in which both Nico and Gloria can exist.
Questions? Annotations? Doubts? Insults? The comments section is open just below this post. See you in another post of Explained, here on El Sabanero X.