Vuk Lungulov-Klotz’s directorial debut, Mutt, is a very chaotic account of one trans man’s 24 hours of reconciliations. The film follows Feña, who transitioned from woman to man just a year ago and has finally settled into a life of his own. Mutt is a 24-hour account of Feña’s misfortunes that make him spiral hard and fast. It’s a compelling story that feels almost like prying into somebody’s personal life with its realistic depictions of daily interactions for the trans community. One couldn’t imagine such a movie could come out even about 5–6 years ago, and it’s a testament to how far we’ve come as consumers.
What Happens In The Film?
Feña lives on his own in New York City and awaits the arrival of his father, whom he’s meeting after 2 years. Feña has a terrible relationship with his mother, who cannot accept that he’s trans. On the other hand, his father is travelling from Chile just to see him (obviously, he doesn’t know that). Already, he’s anxious about making sure his father knows that he’s not totally messed up and is actually doing things the right way, but to add to that, his ex, John, (cis-het white guy, boo!) shows up at a party Feña’s attending the night before his dad’s arrival. John and Feña broke up before he transitioned, and they had it quite rough back then. Feña can’t help but talk to the guy when he sees him. John’s mother is very sick, and he’s partying with his cousin, who wants to do drugs (complicated, we know). The cousin invites Feña to join them, and one thing leads to another, i.e., they find themselves alone in a laundromat, soaking wet from rain. John gives Feña a shirt because he’s freezing, and Feña asks him to look away. John has seen Feña naked many times, but this would be the first after top surgery. John does look away, but he can see Feña in the reflection. Feña isn’t happy with this at all, but John makes him comfortable enough to show him his scars. The tension builds, and they end up hooking up.
When John wakes up, he immediately regrets his decision and decides to leave. Feña notices the awkward nature of it all but has other things to deal with—his dad. At work, Feña is terrified to find out that his sister is visiting. She’s 14 now, and this is the first time they talk about Feña being trans. The younger, the better, we suppose. Zoe is much more receptive to the situation than anyone else we’ve seen thus far. She’s nonchalant about the whole thing, and the bigger problem on her mind is her first period, which has tragically come on this very day (ugh!). Zoe just wants to spend time with Feña because their mother is a pain and she feels completely abandoned. Zoe and Feña head to the pharmacy to get some pads and a plan B for Feña, who hasn’t been on testosterone for long enough to be completely safe. After a really awkward time (with some very cute moments) and a nap, Feña realizes he needs to rush to pick his dad up. More chaos follows as they get locked out of the house with the car keys and all of Feña’s stuff, and then he gets hurt trying to jump over a subway gate (worst day ever).
Feña ends up borrowing John’s car (this guy again) out of desperation. John’s actually really sweet to Zoe, and Feña feels more at ease. After dropping John off, he and Zoe have a proper talk, and Zoe admits that she felt abandoned by her sister (back then) because she just left her. Feña promises that he didn’t leave of his own accord, but it was their mother who threw him out. Zoe asks Feña to promise not to leave her again, though. Dropping her off at school, Feña heads to pick up his dad.
Feña is extremely late, and his dad, who doesn’t speak English very well, is very tired. Feña is immediately defensive, but soon we understand why. Pablo says all the wrong things to Feña immediately after sitting in the car (never tell a trans person “they used to be” something). He says things like Feña likes boys, so why can’t he stay a girl? All the frustration of the day seems to take over at this point, and Feña lets it all out on his father. He’s finally made a place for himself in the world as a trans man, but the person who is supposed to be the most understanding of it can’t understand it at all.
Why Does John Not Want To Be With Feña?
Pablo is actually trying hard to be on Feña’s side. He really cares for his son, but there’s a lot he doesn’t know how to process. To make things worse, Feña has to go return the car to John, so he leaves Pablo alone (possibly to cool things off). Feña takes a bottle of wine to John’s and gets invited to share it with him (not again). This time, when Feña makes a move on John, he stops him. John doesn’t want to be with Feña, not because he’s trans, but because he treated him terribly. John says some horrible things, like “You already messed me up as a woman, and now you want to do it as a man” (brutal). In the end, John tells Feña that he’s hated not because he’s trans but because he’s a horrible person. John thinks Feña was selfish for ruining things, but Feña feels like John was blind to his own problems at the time.
Finally, things are too much for Feña to handle, and he bursts into tears, crying profusely before heading home in the rain. It’s Pablo who consoles Feña back at home after he’s woken up by Feña’s presence in the room. Pablo defends his son, saying he will not spare the guy who hurt his son. He finally knows how to talk to his son, telling him a story from when Feña was little. He’s able to see now that he left his child alone and feels terrible about it. They hug it out, and Feña finally feels a small amount of success in this moment. Mutt ends with Feña looking at the number his sister wrote on his hand, which is half gone. This may symbolize that, though he’s a new person and some things have been wiped away, important people like Zoe and Pablo will always be by his side. He too must make the effort to reach for them, though. We can imagine Feña will spend more time with Zoe and Pablo now, being both an independent transman as well as having family by his side.