I finally got to sit down and finish watching Duncan Jones's Mute on Netflix, and am still struck by what a beautiful and sometimes horrifying film it was. That's not to say it was bad; far from it, really.
Since it was announced as a thing, I've been really looking forward to seeing what the Moon director had up his sleeves. I'll admit it: I'm one of the few who actually enjoyed Warcraft, because it made me want to go right back to Azeroth and play from the beginning. You could tell Duncan loves his genre films greatly, and does his best to convey that love through his filmmaking.
Things you need to know though before seeing Mute, as I haven't seen anyone discuss or warn viewers yet- there are scenes depicting a man preying on young girls (like, illegally and disturbingly young girls), and he also makes jokes that allude to his tastes throughout the film. If you have any triggers for such things, you probably want to skip with movie, as you will more than likely have issues.
With that said, the film is tragically beautiful. I was completely transfixed by the imagery of a dirty and futuristic city; it's impossible to not draw Blade Runner parallels with the obvious nod to the color palette of neons. The lens flares that accompany the flying cars as they land also, totally in reverence to a spinner. The music is a HUGE part of the film too, bringing the tonality to the surface of the story within the first three minutes.
I'll give you a basic overview, but no true spoilers because you'll want to experience the reveals on your own. The story unfolds like your normal gumshoe tale, with perhaps a little more heart involved.
The story is different enough to not feel repeated, at least at the beginning. A young Amish boy, Leo, is injured in a boat accident and has lost the ability to speak. His mother refuses to allow the doctors to operate on him, her steadfast aversion to technology preventing his voice from being repaired.
30 years later, Leo is all grown up and living in Berlin while working as a bartender in a nightclub with robot strippers. Alexander Skarsgard really shines in this role, both on his own and in scenes shared with blue-haired Naadirah (Seyneb Saleh) and the young Josie (Mia-Sophie Bastin). His rage is clearly visible when it needs to be, heartache and pain bubbling to the surface during some pretty harsh moments.
Paul Rudd) is a twilight zone version of BJ Honeycutt and a bit Trapper John from M.A.S.H. (— a mob surgeon trying to do right by his daughter, right down to the martini and surgical scrubs, also smoking the occasional cigar. He's joined in the makeshift operating theater by his best friend Duck (Justin Theroux), who calls Bill 'babe' and has certain… proclivities.
My personal favorite thing (blink and you'll miss it) is the callback to Jones's INCREDIBLE film Moon. Duncan had said in the weeks leading up to the release of Mute that it was the 'spiritual sequel' to Moon, and I totally get that. There is a scene where Leo is sitting in a cafe, and a TV trial is playing on a set above his head. A former Lunar employee (Sam Rockwell) is suing the company for something having to do with clones, and there are little nods to this ongoing thing throughout Mute.
Does it stand on its own as an entry into the sci-fi noir genre? I feel it does, with some nods to the classics that came before it, but Mute is also its own thing. I wasn't prepared for the flash during the credits of thank yous to his father David Jones (aka DAVID BOWIE) and Duncan's childhood nanny Marion Skene, both of whom have passed away.
Watch Mute on Netflix now.