STUCK IN MUTE
Firstly I’d just like to thank first time Writer/Director, Shane Meuwissen for reaching out and allowing me access to an online screener of his 13 minute, Drama short “Stuck In Mute”. Stuck In Mute follows Robin (played by first timer Katie Kleiger), a young woman living in isolation due to a selective mutism disorder. It’s not until she meets a young boy named Jay (Gavin Nienaber) that she realizes every word matters. The film also stars Molly Ryman, Sara Marsh, Henry Constable and Parker Miller.
Shane’s script is an interesting one, its quirky and definitely marches to the beat of its own drum. There are important themes on display such as anxiety, acceptance and the ability to remain comfortable in your own skin. These issues are prevalent in today’s society and quite widespread, now more so than ever due to social media and what’s expected of us in any given social interaction. I’ve never known anyone with a disorder so I haven’t seen first hand how they cripple people emotionally but from experience just being a “non drinker” is something that can isolate you in a group environment, so I can only imagine how these people deal when it gets to be too much. The film’s audio track is clear and some of the shot choices are nice. A lot of personal camera work conveying Robin’s seclusion from the world she lives in. The acting from Both Katie and Gavin is of a high standard, made even more impressive because they’re newcomers. My favorite part of Meuwissen’s film lies in the music. There’s a wonderful piano score in the beginning as well as a fantastic song from solo artist and previous “The Voice” contestant, Kat Perkins.
Being just 13 minutes long we don’t get much insight into Robin’s situation or what life circumstances may have contributed to it. Not necessarily a fault in the film but I would’ve enjoyed some more exposition. For example, Why does she take food and drink from the therapy/meeting session? Was there any relevance to that or was it just an idiosyncrasy of the character? Early on there’s a few frames that seem slightly out of focus as well as some shaky camera during the main altercation in the film but it doesn’t detract from the overall quality.
I was pleasantly surprised by Shane’s debut short and in all honesty it was a nice change of pace to review a Drama based short rather than Horror. The subject matter makes for some interesting insight, the performances are great and the score/soundtrack was impressive. My only advice would be to take a little more care in camera movement and focus/framing other than that this was a very well made film. I look forward to seeing what Shane does next, keep an eye out for this one in the near future!
My rating for “Stuck In Mute” is 8/10