Mute (2021) 

In this short film adaptation of a Stephen King story, a man picks up a hitchhiker and tells him his life story while they drive. Once home, he tells the same story with the addition of the hitchhiker to his priest. As he looks for absolution from both these men, he ends up finding something else entirely. 

Based on the Stephen King short story, this short film is written and directed by Kyle Dunbar. In this adaptation, the setting is a bit vague as the year is not clear and neither is the location, making it something that could happen anytime, anywhere, thus granting the film a sort of freedom and giving it allowances for creativity. Here the filmmaker makes it a fairly contained story that takes place in one car and one living room. The adaptation of the short is done with respect to the source material and bring something to the screen that allows the viewer to get into the story and also allows them to make up their own mind about some of the aspects of the film as well as to the conclusion one is supposed to come to once they are done watching this. 

The cast here is mainly Andrew Bee as the man who tells the story, Alexandre Stoupenkov as the hitchhiker, and Christian Tribuzio as the priest. Bee tells the story and is the center of it all really, giving a strong performance that keeps some aspects close to the vest so as to let the viewer interpreted things their own way. Stoupenkov has no lines as the hitchhiker, the mute, of the story who sits there, listens, and eventually seemingly falls asleep. He is however the linchpin to the whole thing, so his performance while simple, is quite important here. Playing the priest, Tribuzio offers a way for Bee to expend on the story he is telling. His place is more like a good interviewer, letting his interviewee do the talking, prodding with a few pointed questions. Here is a not to judge, but still gives a bit of an opinion of sort. This performance is something that is interesting as he shows interest in the story, but much hold back and does so quite well. 

The film taking place in mainly 2 spaces, inside the car and in a living room, the cinematography had some challenges here that were very well handled by Roman Lapshin whose images make the most of both spaces, but in particular inside the car. The use of the small space and the angles to show they are in the road without showing the crew in the car are perfect for the story. These images create a personal, enclosed space, where the lead can honestly and openly tell his story. 

Mute is a strong short film adapting a story by a master whose work has been brought to the screen by many. This one instance here is done well and with care for the story and for the final product. This is a short that shows not all films need to be feature length and that sometimes, shorter is better. This film allows the viewer a window into one man’s life and then lets them make up their own mind.