In the town of Las Nubes, an anonymous rancher recounts how since he stopped measuring time his memory has clouded almost completely. What he does remember with exact precision is the last night he saw his daughter.
Famed stage stress Elisabeth Vogler (Liv Ullmann) suffers a moment of blankness during a performance and the next day lapses into total silence. Advised by her doctor to take time off to recover from what appears to be an emotional breakdown, Elisabeth goes to a beach house on the Baltic Sea with only Anna (Bibi Andersson), a nurse, as company.
Over the next several weeks, as Anna struggles to reach her mute patient, the two women find themselves experiencing a strange emotional convergence.
The Mirror forgoes a conventional narrative structure, instead weaving together loosely autobiographical reminiscences, dreams and newsreel footage to suggest how the past is reflected in the present, both on a personal and on a larger historical level.
Alexei, the unseen protagonist, has strained relations with his mother and his ex-wife; both of whom bear a strong resemblance to each other. He is also haunted by memories of his idyllic childhood in the country, his absent father (whose divorce surely parallels Alexei’s own), the terrors of the Stalin regime, and the hardships caused by the evacuation of Moscow during World War II.
Additionally, the film evokes collective memories of the era via newsreel footage and, on a deeper level, explores what it means to be Russian.