#REVIEW: “BELOW HER MOUTH”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Jasmine (Natalie Krill) is a successful fashion editor engaged to a man. On a night out with a friend, she meets Dallas (Erika Linder), a promiscuous roofer who happens to be working on a job near Jasmine’s house. Their attraction to each other is instant, and after a short amount time, the pair begin a passionate affair.
It is hard to watch Below Her Mouth and not think of Blue is the Warmest Color. Both Films are frank and vivid portrayals of lesbian relationships, and both contain graphic sex scenes that will make even the most liberal of crowds blush. The key difference in Below Her Mouth is that the majority of the cast and crew are women, which makes an immediate impact on how you will perceive the Film no matter your gender. While it has a storyline and some stilted dialogue, Below Her Mouth spends more time emphasizing raw emotion and naturalism through its characters’ actions and expressions.
What you have likely heard about since its premiere at TIFF last fall are the steamy sex scenes that make up the bulk of its running time. Director April Mullen and Cinematographer Maya Bankovic shoot each one more passionately and intimately than the next, and never allow them to become overly gratuitous – an immediately stark contrast to how Director Abdellatif Kechiche shot the sex scenes in Blue. Mullen and Bankovic also do an incredible job shooting Toronto, making the sights and sounds look truly remarkable.
The Film’s major stumbling block is in its third act. Instead of sticking to its raw artistic theme, it falls into tropes and stereotypes ripped from sitcoms. One particularly laughable moment took me out of the Film entirely, and it failed to recover from the drastic shift afterwards. This is Writer Stephanie Fabrizi’s first Feature Film credit, so I can understand her decision to finish the Film conventionally. But it takes away from so many of the Film’s strengths and nearly betrays everything that came before it.
While the supporting cast offer no stand-out performances, the chemistry between Linder and Krill is downright astounding. I could feel the magnetic passion these two characters have for each other at all times, and it only gets stronger throughout the Film’s running time. This is Linder’s first Film role (she was a model previously), so her on-screen presence could have used some fine-tuning – especially since so much of the film hinges on her shoulders. Whereas Krill is spectacular, really diving deep into the nuances of her character’s struggles and emotions. She does a better job with the dialogue than Linder can, and conveys so much hidden depth through her body language. If we do not see more of her in the coming years, something is very wrong.
The story and dialogue in Below Her Mouth come secondary to the raw emotion at play between the film’s two leads. Their chemistry is electric, and it more than makes up for the Film’s faults. This is a beautifully-shot romance through and through, and deserves your attention not just because of the nearly all-female cast and crew, but because it is distinctly Canadian. There’s no way a bold Film could ever come from the United States.
Elevation Pictures release BELOW HER MOUTH just in time for Valentine’s Day on Friday, February 10, 2017.