Mutt Movie Review: A Transformative Day In The Life Of A Trans Man
The drama Mutt, directed by Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, tells the story across one day of trans man Fena who has recently transitioned. Mutt was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2023 and actor Lío Mehiel was awarded the US Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Acting.
In a classic instance of TMI, the transgender hero Fena (played by trans actor Lío Mehiel) of this raw and unnerving English film, Mutt, tells a female stranger in a club that he doesn’t have a penis.
The woman Jenny (played by Sarah Herrman) reacts the way we all do: Why are you sharing this information with a stranger? Would a straight man or woman share talk about private parts in public places among strangers? Why so much of the defensive tone? After all, if Fena’s happiness is without a penis, it is his choice.
We can live with that. But can he? Mutt, which means a mongrel or an idiot, walks us through one day in Fena’s life. It is not an easy life, we can see. And Fena is having a hard day, although he (transitioning after a tough surgery, we are told) is not treated unkindly by anyone. Fena himself seems to be a stress cluster constantly on the defensive in an overloaded one-day-in-the-life-of script.
By the end of the day, Fena mends bridges with his half-sister Zoe (a dazedly beautiful MiMi Ryder) who turns out to be smarter than she seems. He also reunites with his estranged father (a moving Alejandro Goic) who happens to arrive in town on the same day that Fena patches up with his sister.
The only time Fena and the breathless film slow down is when he sits down to connect with his father during the closing minutes of the film, as rain splatters on the window. I wish there were more quiet moments to lean into this breathless voyage of a transformative life that is still hurting from raw physical and emotional wounds that would never heal.
There are passages in the ambulatory storytelling that needed more sharp shading. For example, Fena’s former boyfriend John (Cole Doman) who loved Fena when he was a girl. The complicated emotions between the two after Fena’s gender correction are dealt with in a cursory flippant manner. Strangely they sleep together even when Fena is now a trans man who, incidentally, has female reproductive organs and can still reproduce. After sex, John is concerned that Fena may be pregnant. She has to rush to a hospital to clear John’s doubts.
Yes, all this happens during the course of one day. Mutt leaves us exhausted, and in a strange way, disoriented, and not only because of the protagonist’s fluid gender status, but also because director Vuk Lungulov-Klotz doesn’t really try to penetrate Fena’s confusions. Going with the flow is not always an easy option.