It is likely that many people would assume a film with a lead character that cannot speak, wouldn’t do very well. 2018, however, has proved this wrong, with The Shape of Water winning four Oscars at the Academy Awards this year. Netflix has jumped on the bandwagon of unconventional leads, releasing Mute, directed by Duncan Jones.
Mute follows a mute, Amish barman called Leo, as he looks for his blue-haired girlfriend Naadirah in the gangster-ridden city of Berlin. With a stellar cast, amazing CGI and the director of Moon at the helm, it would be surprising if this movie was anything less than great.
Yet, despite all of this production value and talent, the movie didn’t really jump above good. It spent most of its time coasting on mediocre, crescendoing in the last 10 minutes to the threshold of good.
Leo is played by Alexander Skarsgard, who delivers an eerily emotive performance despite the fact that he can’t actually speak. He is the stereotype of an action movie hero: tall, good-looking and built like a tank. The fact that he is mute doesn’t really hinder his ability to beat up bad guys, but it does make it very interesting to watch. However, Skarsgard is good at not talking, but not very good at anything else in this movie (other than crying).
Paul Rudd. Not someone you would usually associate with the role of a villain, yet he plays it very well. His character, Cactus Bill, is stuck in that rut between good and evil: he beats up his friend for being a pedophile but kills his ex-girlfriend – he is probably more evil than good. However, his huge moustache and his huge personality somehow make him likeable, maybe because it’s Paul Rudd, but also because his character is multi-faceted and has many different sides to him.
This movie is a bit of a mess. It has a cool soundtrack, a few brilliant scenes and some amazing, if inconsistent, cinematography. The plot is just all over the place. There are a lot of plot elements that don’t actually need to be included in the film, such as Leo being a mute and it being set 40 years into the future. It makes for an interesting watch, but it doesn’t actually need to be there.
Despite the plotholes and the generally unnecessary plot points, this film is really well made. From the CGI to the costume design to the production design and the sets, everything is beautiful and looks like it should have come straight from the future. It is brilliantly well done, looking a lot like Los Angeles in Blade Runner. It is colourful, it is creative and it really fits with the feel an vibe of the entire movie.
This movie is not a must-see. It’s not a movie that will have stuck around in people’s minds for years to come. It is, however, entertaining and beautifully made. So, if you ever have a spare two hours and want to watch something that genuinely is a labour of love and looks amazing, watch Mute. It’s the perfect example of style over substance.