Below Her Mouth, by April Mullen

#FNC #mini-critiques

Dallas meets Jasmine. The story emerges from an authentic spark between the two women, yet one of them is engaged… to a man.

Dallas (Erika Linder) works just outside Jasmine’s house: she’s a roofer. Jasmine (Natalie Krill), the editor of a fashion magazine, finds herself in a lesbian bar while her husband Rile is out of the city. The first steamy kiss leads to a growing chemical attraction from which neither will recover. Nor will the audience.

After many meaningless relationships, Dallas finally gets to experience love at first sight. As for Jasmine, she is lost and intrigued, attracted and caught in denial all at one. The young woman ends up yielding to Dallas’s natural charms, turning the vicious act of cheating into a romance that was entirely meant to be. From the beginning it feels like something is missing in Jasmine’s well-ordered existence. Meeting Dallas will make the young woman realize that she is stuck in a life that is not her own: “She [my mother] tried to set me up with anyone with a penis and a job.” Intuition suddenly supplants obedience in this crazy romantic ride.

Below Her Mouth is an arousing and authentic love story between two people trying to follow their guts. However, it’s disappointing to witness a slightly stereotypical cast of characters, with Dallas’ tomboy look and Jasmine’s diva attitude. It would have been interesting to see these dynamics challenged and pushed to their limits. That being said, both actresses deliver explosive and convincing performances by offering an open-hearted relationship.

A part of the Focus Québec/Canada category of the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Below Her Mouth is the very first Canadian film made entirely by a female crew. It premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The point was “to give a female perspective of this experience [between the two women]”, said April Mullen, who was at the FNC’s screening with producer Melissa Coghlan, screenwriter Stephanie Fabrizi and actress Natalie Krill for a Q&A.

The film addresses the issue of sexuality and the paradox of defining it with one revealing line of dialogue: “But you’re a lesbian!” Nudity is omnipresent in the film, displayed as part of an unrestrained vision of sex. The numerous sex scenes and close shots give a unique perception of the evolution of intimacy between the two characters. Voluptuous without being crude, Below Her Mouth follows the characters as they are introduced to passionate love and live out their sexual awakening.

Below Her Mouth: Trailer

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