So, I want to talk about this scene.
The sense of foreboding menace—particularly when you get those shots of Illya’s reflection in the mirror, slowly unzipping his jacket and reaching for his gun—made my skin crawl with equal parts anticipation and terror.
There’s just something about viewing Illya not only through the filter of Napoleon but also through the reflection in the mirror that set my teeth on edge. The audience has undoubtedly come to care about Illya, and in this moment we’re distanced from him, disconnected.
In the beginning of the movie, Illya’s an inhuman shadow that stalks Napoleon and Gaby through the streets of Berlin. He’s subsequently humanized through his interactions with the two of them, but especially Gaby. The movie, by calling back to those early scenes, is forcing us to ask ourselves whether anything has really changed. Is the Illya we came to care for—the Illya who came to care for Gaby and Napoleon and vice versa—real? Or is it the shadowy, monstrous form we—and Napoleon—first glimpsed in the mirror in East Berlin?
The answer is, of course, yes. Everything has changed. Illya has changed. And, I think, we know that, instinctively. But the movie does a very good job here of forcing us to confront the uncomfortable reality that: maybe nothing has actually changed.
And: they might not all get out of this alive.
(Originally posted on Tumblr. Minor (very minor) edits have been made.)