The quaility of Duncan Jones’ first two films (Moon and Source Code) placed him on the map of the most promising up and coming directors. Whilst Warcraft wasn’t anywhere near to being a masterpiece it wasn’t the cinematic atrocity people claimed it to be either, Duncan Jones was in great need of hitting the big time again. However, it’s unlikely Mute is going to be the film to help him achieve that.
It seems a bit cliché to describe any future set film to be greatly reminiscent of Blade Runner, but the comparisons between Mute and Blade Runner are unmissable, especially when you compare the representation of the futuristic cities and the neo-noir plot. Although set in a different country, Mute’s 2050s Berlin has many similarities to Blade Runner’s 2019 LA with its futuristic tech, bustling sex industry, and flying cars.
Berlin certainly makes more a potentially interesting setting, acting as a East meets West melting pot of immigration, but director Duncan Jones doesn’t make the most of it. He focuses on a mute bartender’s, Leo (Alexander Skarsgård), quest to find his missing girlfriend where the only link appears to be a pair of surgeons, one of whom wants to escape Berlin for America with his daughter.
Whilst I wasn’t greatly enamored with The Shape of Water, Sally Hawkins did show how much power can be garnered from a performance with no dialogue. Skarsgård, undoubtedly a good actor, is a little boring in this film showing nothing more than rage tinged with occasional sadness. Still, he isn’t the worst performer as a miscast Paul Rudd fails to carry his side of the story as he just wasn’t threatening enough to be believable in his role.
Paul Rudd’s gangster side story is where the most questionable aspect of the film arises. The film’s highly odd depiction of a very dark subject matter is done is such a blasé way that is has to be seen to be believed.
On the weekend of 04/02 there was some rather large sporting event where two American football teams compete to wim a super bowl. Quite what makes this bowl "super" is anyone’s guess, but the event is just as famous for dropping major movie trailers during the half time show. One of the trailers dropped was for another Cloverfield movie which was released on Netflix that very night. Quite why Netflix suddenly dropped this bombshell on us was anyone’s guess, but we weren’t complaining because we had something to watch that weekend. It soon transpired that the reason why this was released with very little fanfare is that is really isn’t very good.
The film’s only saving grace, with exception of one or two good moments, was a superb, and emotionally raw performance from Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Mbatha-Raw, all on her own, makes the entire film worth watching because you do connect with her character (or what there is of her character) due to the her brilliant performance. The Interstellar like moment where she watches her family is a generally engaging moment in a film where these moments were few and far between. The performances of her fellow stars are fine but they may as well not even be there because their boring cardboard cut-out personalities ensure they don’t even make the slightest blip on the radar.
The Cloverfield aspects feel as though they were tacked on to a random movie (which probably wasn’t very good anyway) which is let down by clumsy exposition (we have these terrible scenes where the characters, via voiceover, debate what to do next) and poor dialogue. The film is also a horrible mismatch of deadpan humour (Chris O’Dowd’s character seems to have rather blasé attitude towards losing one of his limbs) and intense horror with neither really coming to the forefront. The film, all in all, is a bit of mess, and randomly adding aspect that would make it part of the Cloverfield franchise probably didn’t help.