An attractive mood piece repping a narrow rural world as seen through the eyes of a 10-year-old, “Mutum” captures the child’s bewilderment about adult life, but lacks enough characterization to take it to another level. Completely carried on the fragile shoulders of the exceptional, non-professional young lead, this story of a disintegrating family in a remote area of Brazil’s Minas Gerais state ends up offering only intermittent rewards. Based on a famous Brazilian novel, the pic should prove resonant with local auds, though offshore prospects will be limited to fests.
The land is hard and life tough for a farm family headed by a father (Joao Miguel) with little time for sensitive son Thiago (Thiago Da Silva Mariz). Thiago can only confess his anxieties to brother Felipe (Wallison Felipe Leal Barroso), whose own concerns about sin and its consequences increase the boy’s anxieties. His big eyes registering every perceived hurt, Mariz is the picture of childhood vulnerability, and helmer Sandra Kogut coaxes moving perfs from him and Barroso, though adults remain one-note. Location work nicely captures the plain’s empty vastness and the fearful unknown of the forest.