A Few Thoughts on Duncan Jones’ Mute

Last night, we finally got around to watching Duncan Jones’ Mute, and today I’m still processing it. It was densely packed with narrative, beautifully shot, and deeply disturbing. So, in other words, a productive way to spend a Saturday night.

I’ve read quite a few negative reviews of Mute, most of them citing slow pacing, overwhelming visuals, and a confusing storyline as negatives. I can see their points, though I don’t entirely agree. It’s definitely a film that demands careful attention, which doesn’t always go over well these days.

A few observations:

-I enjoyed all the references to Jones’ other film Moon, complete with Sam Rockwells (not a typo). Also, I now need to rewatch Moon.

-The aesthetic was clearly an homage to Blade Runner, only not quite as gritty and with less rain and more sunlight. I think I need to rewatch it just to fully take in all the visual references.

-Alexander Skarsgard did an excellent job playing Leo with only gestures and facial expressions, maintaining a delicate balance between innocence and menace. It made me better appreciate him as a serious actor. (Not that he wasn’t good as Eric Northman, but that was True Blood, you know?)

-I’d really like to know how Leo—the good Amish boy—ended up living in the Philip K. Dick version of Berlin. There’s a story there, I’m sure.

-I once heard Paul Rudd describe his character Cactus Bill as “not the nicest guy.” Paul Rudd is apparently also talented at understatement.

-It occurs to me that Cactus Bill and Duck are like nightmare versions of Hawkeye Pierce and Trapper John McIntyre.

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