Mutt is a terrific film that truly falls into the “must see” category, whether it’s a story that you relate to or perhaps especially if it’s not. Photo courtesy of Strange Animal Entertainment

Film Review: Mutt

Film Reviews

Director: Vuk Lungulov-Klotz 

Strange Animal Entertainment
In Theaters 09.01

The fall season is a time of change; leaves change, weather changes and even movies begin to change as the focus shifts to more adult-oriented fare. Mutt, the acclaimed feature  directorial debut of Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, is a poignant story about how we deal with both change and reconciliation. 

Feña (Lio Mehiel, WeCrashed) is a young man who is trying to get used to a new life surrounded by new friends and in a different part of town. Over 24 hours, Feña has the jarring experience of having three people from his former life as Fernanda coming back into his life. First, Feña runs into his straight ex-boyfriend, John (Cole Doman, Uncle Frank), and a spark is unexpectedly rekindled. Following that, he sees his younger half-sister, Zoe (MiMi Ryder, Blue Bloods), who hasn’t spoken to him since his mother kicked him out. Finally, Feña reconnects with his father, Pablo (Alejandro Goic, The Club), a Chilean man who still very much loves his child, though he alternates between trying to understand Feña and trying to bring back Fernanda. It’s an overwhelming time of self reflection for Feña, as the struggle to move forward must be balanced with making peace with the past.

Lungulov-Klotz, who also wrote the screenplay, approaches the material with unflinching honesty and stark reality, bringing the audience right into the middle of sensitive questions and issues that face trans people and those who are close to them, and Mutt does so with bold audacity. We’ve never seen sequences such as these in a mainstream film before, from an ex-boyfriend physically exploring his curiosity about his former lover’s top surgery to a trans brother who still menstruates helping his sister when she has her first period. Lungulov-Klotz treats his protagonist with sensitivity and love while being fair to the other characters. The straightforward, no-frills approach to the visual style, as well as the 1.33.1 aspect ratio, help give Mutt an intimacy that serves the story well.

Miehel, who won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Acting at Sundance Film Festival 2023, gives a fearless and magnificent performance that deserves to be considered for an Oscar nomination. Miehel, who uses they/them pronouns, brings a sense of humanity and vulnerability to the role while imbuing Feña with an unshakable dignity. Doman is also worthy of praise for his complex portrayal of a character whose journey should not be artificially conflated with that of Feña, as the character has a great deal to process and unpack himself. Many of the sweetest moments of the film revolve around the interplay between the two siblings, and Ryder’s portrayal of a teen who is reaching out to the only person she has in the world is both touching and remarkably mature.

Mutt is a terrific film that truly falls into the “must see” category, whether it’s a story that you relate to, or perhaps especially if it’s not—this is a rare cinematic gem that has the potential to open hearts and minds. Mutt is a true modern classic with a lot to say about the power of empathy, and it will stay with you long after the credits are –Patrick Gibbs

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