Last night, following the release party for The 20/20 Experience, Justin Timberlake dropped the video for “Mirrors.”
Yes, it’s over 8 minutes long, so please get your bitching out now (as if any of you complain about length in your personal lives!), and just watch. It’s beautiful—and you might cry.
As we see in the video’s opening moments, the “Mirrors” video is dedicated to Timberlake’s grandparents: Sadie & William. His grandfather recently passed away in late December, and this is his way of paying tribute to their 63-year marriage.
For the first five minutes, the video travels through time—from the young couple’s blissful courtship galavanting ’round a funhouse, to their rocky beginnings as newlyweds at home (those mascara tears and scattered papers all over the floor? All the makings of a love fight, Dannii style), through to the emotional end as aged lovers and, eventually, loss.
In the last few minutes, the mood shifts slightly as Timberlake finally makes an appearance in the video, catching a wedding ring dropped from his grandmother and stepping into the funhouse to perform an extended solo dance along the mirrors for a final moment of self-reflection–quite literally.
Along the way, there’s plenty of mementos used as symbolism—rings, books and, of course, mirrors–which pop up in different places all over the 8-minute clip, as well as some artful visuals and clever camera tricks that tie together the past and present. (The aged photobooth photos, for example.) That final, devastating two-become-one moment using some mirrored cinematography before the video transitions to Timberlake, in particular, is a really incredible way of saying everything with nearly nothing.
Timberlake’s been criticized for being overly indulgent, which isn’t entirely off-base: I mean, he is dancing with himself in a mirror for 3 minutes, after all. But when his creativity is called into question—that 20/20 is simply a lesser regurgitation of FutureSex–I disagree, and I’d like to think this video puts some of that to bed.
The video for “Mirrors” is more personal and thought-provoking than anything he ever did on FutureSex/LoveSounds, romanticizing his own grandparents’ love story as the ultimate show of respect. (It even sort of reminded me of Titanic in moments: An epic tale of young lovers uniting–and as with any great love story, tragedy. Then again, any and all visual depictions of love remind me of Titanic, so there’s also that.)
The reality is that JT’s grown up, and he’s got something to say again: For the first time since “Cry Me A River,” he’s turning the mirror back on his own life.