Twelve Shorts for the Shortest Month #9: Mute (2009)

US / 19 minutes / color / Ryan Lough, Hassan Said Dir & Scr: Hassan Said Pr: Ryan Lough, Hassan Said Cine: Jordan Ashton Danelz Cast: Daniel Higgins, Vanessa Donley, Jesse Mueller, Jessette Indrieri

A powerful movie that’s riveting to watch and that yet somehow left me with something of a sour taste. There’s a line between exploitation, on the one hand, and harrowing depiction of human anguish, on the other, and I’m still not sure in my own mind on which side of that line this movie lies. I accept absolutely that the intentions of the movie’s makers were good; where I’m less confident is about my own reactions to the piece.

Oliver (Higgins) is the elderly single father to Anna (Donley), who’s a mute: her hearing seems okay, although the sound editing might seem to indicate she hears things a bit muffled-like, but all she can manage by way of vocalizations are whimpers and wails, sometimes loud wails. Although she seems not unintelligent, and clearly has a creative spirit, there’s obviously more going on than merely her muteness: she habitually holds her fingers in an odd, crooked conformation.

Vanessa Donley as Anna

One day Oliver gets home from the store to find Anna lying on her bed in distress, Continue reading