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Mute, 2018

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Director: Duncan Jones
Writers: Michael Robert Johnson, Duncan Jones
Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux

This review was originally written by Garrett on his Letterboxd account.

I really wanted to like Mute, and it’s by no means a terrible movie, it just didn’t work for me, and for a pretty specific reason. Am I the only one that couldn’t understand 50% of the dialogue in this? I don’t know if it’s the way the audio tracks are mixed on the Netflix stream or my TV’s settings in concert with those, but I regret not just turning the subtitles on right away when I was having trouble hearing and understanding the characters. I feel like in the first half hour I missed most of the pertinent info about who characters are, what their jobs are, how they know each other, etc. And by the end I wasn’t really any clearer on those details.

I liked the performances a lot, especially Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux. And Duncan Jones is a really great filmmaker, littering Mute with some great images (and some not great ones due to some shoddy FX work; I honestly don’t even think I understand the choice to set it in this world. It didn’t seem to be necessary to the story in any way, not that that entirely matters). But it just didn’t come together for me. I couldn’t figure out who I was rooting for or why. I desperately wanted to understand the stakes of it all but just didn’t.

Mute does move with purpose and I feel like it is trying to communicate something with me, even if I didn’t get it, and it’s got a lot of redeeming scenes and performances. It’s not really bad by any measure, just disappointing. I really like Jones and I’m glad he got to make this, even if just to showcase Rudd as a great slimeball. And hopefully he exorcised whatever demons this story held for him. I will always impatiently await the next Jones movie, even if it’s more Mute than Moon.

SCORE: ★★☆☆☆

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