Stuck in Mute (2016) – By Philip Smolen


Robin (a very expressive Katie Kleiger) is a young woman who suffers from Selective Mutism (an anxiety disorder that prevents people from speaking in many typical social settings). She goes to a weekly therapy group, but it doesn’t seem to be helping her. Even after her therapist (Molly Ryman) tries her best to get her to speak, Robin refuses. However, later on Robin sees a young boy named Jay (Gavin Nienaber) who also suffers from the same condition. He tries to follow Robin, but Robin gives him the slip and she winds up following him. Robin then stumbles upon a very unpleasant situation involving Jay. Now Robin faces a crisis: should she intervene and help Jay or should she just not get involved?

“Stuck in Mute” is a 12 minute short film from Shane Meuwissen and it sheds light on a little known disorder. Most of us are familiar with depression and anxiety, but Selective Mutism is one condition many of us know little about. Meuwissen explores the subject by framing a dramatic story around it.

Katie Kleiger is so good as Robin that you believe she suffers from Selective Mutism in real life. Her facial tics and eyes reveal everything about Robin’s character and her everyday struggles. You can see her pain and just how uncomfortable she is in normal social situations. Gavin Nienaber is also quite good as Jay.

This is a smart and emotionally moving film. Meuwissen cuts through a lot of the rhetoric about conditions such as Selective Mutism and lets you see just how devastating it can really be. “Stuck in Mute” is a poignant and life-affirming movie about just how hard some of the simple things in life are for some people. It is an eye-opening and poignant experience.

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