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Mutt: Film Review (Sundance London)

With its powerful performances and high-stakes plot, Mutt is a timely and necessary film in today’s world.

Have you ever had a day where everything seems to go horribly wrong? That seems to be the basic premise of Mutt, directed and written by Vuk Lungulov-Klotz. The film is a slice-of-life movie that feels very personal and intimate, as it opens a window into the main character’s life. More than anything else, Mutt is the protagonist’s story and his journey of self-discovery as he navigates complicated relationships from his past.

Mutt follows Feña (Lío Mehiel), a young trans man, over 24 hours in New York City. Throughout the day we witness on screen, the audience sees Feña – going through multiple crises while facing ghosts from the past, as he finds himself rekindling various relationships with some people with whom he has lost touch since his gender transition. At the beginning of the film, Feña reunites with John (Cole Doman), his straight ex-boyfriend, with whom he had a rough breakup. Soon after, he is unexpectedly visited by his estranged younger sister, 14-year-old Zoe (MiMi Ryder). As the day ends, Feña finally manages to pick up his father, Pablo (Alejandro Goic) from the airport.

At the very beginning of the film, it is immediately clear that Feña will have to pick up his dad from the airport the following night. This establishes a very clear time limit for this story. The 24-hour format is a very clever way of structuring the movie, which proves to be successful as it allows Mutt to heighten its stakes with every moment that passes. As such, both the audience and the main character feel a sense of urgency as every scene and setback inevitably draws us, and Feña himself, closer to Feña’s meeting with his dad. The movie also does a good job of reminding us how important this reunion is as we find out more about Feña’s family and background as the film goes on.

loud and clear reviews mutt sundance london film 2023
Mutt (2023 Sundance Film Festival London)

As such, we can delve deeper into Feña’s personal life and emotions throughout Mutt. It is almost as if we were peeling back some layers, as the audience discovers more information about Feña’s life scene by scene. And as we find out more about the protagonist, he seems to discover new things about himself too, as he is confronted by individuals from his past. His relationship with his sister, for example, is particularly interesting, as the two have to get to know each other all over again. They have both changed in the years during which they have lost contact, and we see them re-establish a bond they had previously lost.

Although most of the cast is extremely convincing in their respective roles, Lío Mehiel is the star that shines the brightest in Mutt in their emotional portrayal of such a vulnerable character. Seeing this character portrayed by a transmasculine nonbinary actor is also extremely important. Not only is Mehiel committed to exploring the concepts of transness through art, but this is also a testament to the importance of having accurate representation on screen, particularly when tackling stories from a marginalized community. In the case of Mutt, this is also true off screen as the director’s own experience as a transgender storyteller undoubtedly informed the making of the film.

Mutt proves once again how important it is to give a voice to these often unheard stories, and showcase representation both in front and behind the camera. And perhaps this is why the film is such a beautiful and authentic product that resonates even with those of us who are not part of the transgender community and will never fully understand the difficulties trans people face every day. Mutt is a tender and heart-breaking feature and, more importantly, a necessary and urgent movie, given the constant and direct attacks to the trans community that we have recently seen both in the US and in the UK.

Mutt was screened at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival London, and will be released in US theaters on August 18, 2023.

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