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Quiet as a Mouse
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by Collin Souter

"Yes, Big Brother is watching us...but let's just hear what he has to say."
4 stars

(SCREEND AT THE 2004 CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL) I don’t know about you, but I cannot stand it when someone throws a piece of trash out their car window while they’re driving. It that fast food item such a nuisance that you can’t pull over and throw it away into the nearest garbage disposal? Or how ‘bout when you see someone run a red light and not get caught, even though you just got a ticket for innocently rolling through a stop sign? Is there no justice in this world? Why is there never a cop around when you need one? The new German import “Quiet As a Mouse” (originally titled “Muxmauschenstill”) centers around a character who is on your side.

Meet Mux: Freelance vigilante documentary filmmaker. Mux (Jan Henrick Stahlberg) speaks for all of us who cannot stand to see people littler, drive recklessly or vandalize. With camera in hand and his trusty partner, Gerd (Fritz Roth), by his side, Mux lurks in the corners waiting to bring to justice those who plague society with their unlawful behavior. Because of his everyman exterior, Mux sees what police cannot and, thus, get the job done for them with as little violence as possible.

Mux uses his camera as his main weapon. Rather than bring the wrongdoers to the authorities, Mux prefers to use humiliation tactics to get them to learn their lesson. No crime goes unpunished, even in a classroom where Mux speaks to a group of elementary school students who taunt and humiliate one of their classmates. Mux makes the lead culprit sit in the corner while Mux throws wads of paper at him in front of his peers.

Mux’s self-righteous world gets complicated when he meets and falls in love with Kira (Wanda Perdelwitz). Although Mux charms Kira and wins her over with his wit and passion for justice, Kira remains her own person and does not cater to every one of Mux’s whims or interests. They are different people.

As Mux, Jan Hanrick Stahlberg manages to charm the pants off the audience so as to keep us on his side at all times. He does not do a recreation of Michael Douglas in “Falling Down,” but a guy who means to go further than complain. He really wants to contribute something valuable to the community and be known for it. Stahlberg’s performance—like his script and first-timer Marcus Mittermeier’s direction—comes off so natural and effortless, we almost feel as though we are watching (maybe even cheering at) an episode of candid camera.

But “Quiet As a Mouse” does not let the character off the hook so easily. The truth is I’m sure I’ve run a red light or two and maybe I accidentally let a piece of litter fly out of my car. We’re all guilty and we all fall victim to our worst temptations, but we like to think we know better than those who we witness doing silly things. Mux tries his best to rise above all of humanity without trying to learn what makes us tick. In the end, he’s only human, whether he likes it or not. Personally, though, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of his kind out there.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Portions of this review can also be found in the 2004 Chicago International Film Festival Guide, also written by Collin Souter.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10877&reviewer=233
originally posted: 10/11/04 14:53:53
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/20/04 Erick great concept, taut execution throughout 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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