In terms of how heartfelt it is, Mute is an unmitigated success. The Netflix-released film from Moon and Warcraft director Duncan Jones is almost painfully personal, as evidenced by the dedication at its end, which acknowledges the two parents who raised him: his father, David Bowie, and his nanny, Marion Skene, both of whom died in the past two years. (His estranged and living mother, Angie Bowie, is not mentioned, although one can guess by the behavior of some of Mute’s more nefarious characters as to how he feels about her.) That's why the critical trouncing of Jones’ odd and admittedly far-from-perfect science-fiction flick has been so hard to watch: Despite its narrative ungainliness and the across-the-board miscasting of its four primary roles—Alexander Skarsgård’s mute bartender/artist being the main offender—there’s a blockbuster’s worth of ideas packed into Mute’s overstuffed two hours, and Jones’ combination of visionary tech and raw-nerve emotion is wholly admirable. Here’s hoping audiences can give Mute a few years to mellow into something wonderful, and movie studios can give Jones more runway to tell his unique, affecting stories.


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