***Update: I can’t stop thinking about this movie. In a good way. It gets in your head and walks around with you. More below***
Indie sci-fi director, Duncan Jones, has a new film, Mute, just released straight to Netflix. It, like a lot of films I like, has follows a main character who doesn’t talk much.
This film also features a lot of callbacks to the messed up cinema of the 1970s and ’80s. Yes, Paul Rudd’s facial hair is an intentional homage to Elliott Gould’s in M*A*S*H. Yep, this is pretty much what Berlin would look like if Rick Deckard ever had to chase a replicant that far. And that hobbit in a kimono? He sure has some very intimidating sex robots. I’m think that’s a reference to A Boy and His Dog, or maybe Zardoz, or, failing that, just too much Hollywood cocaine in general.
So, I liked this movie. I liked the single-minded, problem-solving intensity of the hero with a communication disorder. Alexander Skarsgård did a heck of a job telling you everything you needed to know with piercing, plaintive stares. He only used two signs, but that’s all right. His character did not grow up using sign. He grew up being Amish, which makes him extra cool. And I guess it’s a bit of an homage to Witness, which also had some throat trauma.
I hope that’s not a spoiler. I mean, the title is Mute, and the intersection of the throat trauma and the Amishness happens in the opening scenes. And there is a brief flash of a newspaper headline that relates the background information that conservatives in Germany had welcomed Amish immigrants for racist reasons.
Also, Sam Rockwell’s character from Moon, Duncan Jones’ first feature, makes an appearance, or, rather a few appearances.
There were so many things I enjoyed about watching this film all by myself on a rainy afternoon. But it’s a murky, introspective kind of enjoyment. And maybe enjoyment isn’t really the word. Appreciation is more accurate.
This is a film that can be appreciated. If you appreciate Bladerunner and Paul Rudd acting like a really pissed off Elliott Gould and gratuitous throat trauma and Swedish guys who don’t say much, you may appreciate Mute.
If, on the other hand, none of that seems like your thing, skip it. No worries. We can still be friends.
-After about 12 hours of letting this movie work it’s way through my head, I realize that it’s one of the most legit renditions of William Gibson style cyberpunk to be commited to film. It’s right up there with Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. I hereby bestow upon Mute an unequivocal rating of five out of five mostly functional cybernetic implants.
Again, if you’re the kind of person who hates cyberpunk, skip it. We can still be friends. Unless, of course, while hating all things cyberpunk, you are ridiculously committed to steampunk cosplay. In this case, I just don’t know what your deal is. I’ll probably nervously giggle far too much for us to have a productive conversation about how the addition of sprockets improves the function of your pince-nez.