Duncan Jones has been working on Mute for 12 years, and now its release is just about 12 months away (maybe less than!).
It feels like we”ve been waiting forever for Mute – for me, ever since I raced to Google Jones” in-the-works projects immediately after seeing his incredible feature directorial debut, Moon, at my hometown”s indie theater in 2009. In the interim, Jones released time loop movie Source Code and this year”s Warcraft, but Mute has been waiting on the back burner all the while.
Now Mute has a Netflix release and an ambitious schedule: the streaming platform announced today that it”s distributing the film with a 2017 release date, and production in Berlin starts today. It”ll likely get a limited theatrical release simultaneous to hitting the streaming platform, similar to last year”s Beasts of No Nation. This news comes after Alexander Skarsgård spilled on the Netflix deal late last month.
Also announced today: The Leftovers and Girl on the Train actor Justin Theroux is joining Mute“s cast.
Jones has said the film “owes something to Blade Runner,” and the visual influence is evident in the concept art that”s long been online (below). My one concern is that Mute will hit theaters too close to a spiritual-cousin Blade Runner sequel (that movie opens next October). But the story is certainly different enough, and though the thought-provoking sci-fi of Moon was influenced by movies like Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey, Jones himself is a unique and exciting enough voice that Mute should be a film set apart next year. (Interestingly, it looks like Mute will be set three years before Blade Runner: 2049, a title that presumably refers to when it takes place.)
Mostly, I”m looking forward to seeing what kind of performances Mute delivers. Jones pulled an Oscar-worthy performance (two Oscar-worthy performances, actually) out of Sam Rockwell for Moon, and with Mute, he”s again giving his lead actor a compelling challenge – this time, it appears, Skarsgård will have to carry the film without the luxury of speech.
With a script co-written by Jones and Michael Robert Johnson (Sherlock Holmes), Mute follows Leo, a mute bartender (Skarsgård) in 2052 Berlin searching for a missing person who was his one reason to be in the city in the first place. The Netflix press release today calls Theroux and Paul Rudd”s characters “two rogue villains” who Leo finds himself “dueling” with, while a release last year from the film”s two production companies described them as “an odd pair of American surgeons who seem to be the only recurring clue” to this missing woman Leo”s searching for, “and Leo can”t tell if they can help, or who he should fear most.”
Clint Mansell, who wrote Moon“s haunting score, is on board to compose Mute“s music. This spring, he told me of the project: “One of the things of having a long gestation period is you got a lot of time to explore things. You never quite know until you start putting music to footage whether it”s going to work or not. But it”s great to have time to explore it. It”s a real rare gift.”
Soon, Mansell will finally have some Mute footage to work with.