“Mute” by Job, Joris & Marieke

Mute is a concept that would have been grotesque in live-action but turns into something kind of sweet and charming in animation. It’s a film about a world populated by people born without mouths, and the dark way in which they discover the gift of speech.

It’s to the credit of Dutch filmakers Job, Joris & Marieke (the production moniker of Job Roggeveen, Joris Oprins, and Marieke Blaauw) that they were able to make a baby gushing blood out of its mouth look appealing and cute. That’s the power of good production design, which this film has in spades. The visuals are accompanied by a jolly soundtrack created by the appropriately named Happy Camper.

When I thought about the film afterward, the concept started to fall apart. In a long-established world of people without mouths, wouldn’t they have developed an alternative means of communication instead of struggling to speak through non-existent orifices? Why would they have vocal cords if they have no mouths? Best not to think about it. The film doesn’t exactly hold together on a conceptual level, but it made me smile throughout and that’s good enough for me.


  • Define: “Appealing”

    Er…maybe it’s just me but I wouldn’t use the word “appealing” to describe this piece. It’s great dark humor but the concept is still disturbing in animation. I definitely wouldn’t describe the baby gushing blood as “cute” either. All I could think at that moment was why weren’t the adults rushing to care for the baby like normal people would do in the same situation? I felt like the sound coming out of it’s mouth would have been a secondary thought on the mind of the adults and they would first be concerned with the enormous gash and blood coming out of their child. The concept for me fell apart right there. There are no stakes to be had for the characters.They don’t care that they neglected to watch the baby and it got a knife stuck in it’s face.They don’t feel enormous pain from cutting themselves open. They won’t bleed to death if they cut themselves open. So…what are we as the audience supposed to feel after seeing this film? Exactly what the characters feel – nothing!

    The story is weak and visuals are not enough to make up for that. It’s a simple joke that is held out for four minutes and could have been told in less than half the time with a funnier payoff.