Monette, a recently separated travelling book salesman tells his grim story to both a priest and a hitchhiker, looking for absolution.
More short films, kiddies! Today we have MUTE, written and directed by Kyle Dunbar, based on a short story by Stephen King. The short story was first published in Playboy Magazine in 2007 and included in Mr. King’s collection JUST AFTER SUNSET in 2008.
I love Stephen King stories, although I fully admit some of his works do not translate well to film. Sometimes it is context that is lost, and sometimes its choices made by the filmmaker that do not tell the tale completely. I have also seen translations of these stories taken so far from the original that they are almost unrecognizable.
In this case, however, I feel the filmmaker did an excellent job of telling the tale as close to the source material as was possible. There are a few small changes, of course, but not enough to take it out of its intended context.
Our story opens with Monette (Andrew Bee) meeting with a shockingly informal Priest (Christian Tribuzio) for an impromptu confessional at the padre’s home. Monette has had an experience he cannot explain nor fully understand and he hopes he may gain insight and forgiveness from the Good Father.
It all begins with Monette, a traveling book salesman, picking up a deaf/mute hitchhiker (Alexadre Stoupenkov). Monette is in the early days of a very ugly divorce, and he talks out loud to the passenger about everything, even as he knows he can’t hear him.
I don’t want to give anything away, and if you know the original short story, then you already know. So I’m gonna skip over all that and talk about the cast and the production overall.
Andrew Bee is an accomplished actor with many credits to his name, including a small role in SUICIDE SQUAD (2016, the Jared Leto one, not the James Gunn one). His performance in this film is almost deadpan, yet he delivers the lines with an unexplainable gravitas. I hung on every word, even though I knew where it was going. He was fascinating to watch.
Christian Tribuzio gives a wonderful performance as the unassuming priest, late for a lunch appointment, making time for the Lord’s work and trying to be as open minded to the tale as possible. He reminded me very much of the “hip cool” youth pastors I recall from my time in church programs as a kid.
The story is told in a series of flashbacks as Monette tells the priest about it. We get to meet the unnamed hitcher, played by Alexadre Stoupenkov. While this man’s credits may not be as long as the others, his performance is all body language and facial expressions. That is not an easy task. He comes across as sympathetic and harmless, almost confused for much of the film. That is by design and it is simply perfect.
The production quality is high, the lighting is wonderful all around. In my opinion, this is one of the more faithful Stephen King interpretations I’ve seen in a long time. Definitely worth a watch