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Below Her Mouth
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Not So Much "Lost and Delirious" As Just Lost"
1 stars

If you ever wondered what the great French film “Blue is the Warmest Color” might have been like with half the running time, roughly twice as much nudity and not even a slim fraction of its extraordinary dramatic and emotional power, then the Canadian melodrama “Below Her Mouth” should be right up your deeply questionable alley. For everyone else, the film will come across as a deeply silly misfire that wants to be an erotic cry of the heart but feels more like a letter to Penthouse that was marked “Return to Sender.”

As the film opens, the impeccably coiffed fashion editor Jasmine (Natalie Krill) is about to marry her impeccably coiffed fiancee and have an impeccably coiffed life when the fiancee goes out of town on business for a few days. One night, she lets a friend take her to a lesbian bar where she meets impeccably coiffed butch roofer Dallas (Erika Linder), who immediately puts the moves on her. She spurns them at first—she is super-straight, as she reminds everyone within earshot—but after putting up what could be considered to be at most a token resistance, she succumbs to the love that dare not speak its name while finally confronting some hard truths about herself. For the first time in her life, she is truly happy and at peace with herself and having the best sex of her life to boot. That is all well and good, but what will she do when her fiancee comes back—especially if he happens to come back at an especially inopportune moment?

“Below Her Mouth” is notable for being a film where not only does it tell an almost entirely female-centered narrative (with only a couple of token male characters who are mostly left offscreen throughout) but virtually all of the key behind-the-scenes positions have been filled by women as well. From a symbolic standpoint, this is certainly something to applaud but it has not resulted in a discernibly better film. The screenplay by Stephanie Fabrizi is embarrassingly clunky throughout with its stilted dialogue, contrived situations and characters and individual moments that are meant to be taken seriously but instead teeter towards self-parody. (One scene, in which Jasmine masturbates at length in a bathtub while listening to Dallas pound away outside with her hammer, is so ridiculous that Russ Meyer might have written it off as being a bit much.)

Worse, it never creates a set of circumstances that make Jasmine’s refusal to accept who she is even remotely believable to today’s eyes—the whole thing feels as if it was written about 40 years ago and even then, it might have been a stretch in terms of plausibility. Director April Mullen appears to be more concerned with making everything look slick and stylish instead of telling a believable story in an interesting manner and the two leads appear to have been cast for their looks and willingness to appear nude throughout. Put it this way—even if you didn’t know that Linder was a Swedish model making her acting debut, you would quickly figure that out from listening to her stilted line readings that not even her frequent nudity can quite distract viewers from noticing.

Frankly, and I am not trying to be cute here, the only time that “Below Her Mouth” comes to life is during the long and quite graphic sex scenes that may not quite cross the border into pornography—included extended glimpses of a strap-on in action—but nevertheless come pretty close. Alas, even they don’t quite work because, unlike the similarly explicit scenes in “Blue is the Warmest Color”—in which a large amount of the erotic charge that they conveyed came from the fact that the film had taken the time develop the characters at length so that when they did make love, it had a real and palpable impact—all we get to see here are a bunch of sex scenes that are, aside from the explicitness, virtually indistinguishable from the stuff you can see on Cinemax at around 2:00 AM on any given night.

I really wish that “Below Her Mouth” had been better because it might have served as the rebuke that some felt “Blue is the Warmest Color” deserved for telling its own female-centric narrative through the perspective of a male filmmaker. Instead, it just comes across as more-than-soft-core silliness that will appeal to horny guys and virtually no one else.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=31235&reviewer=389
originally posted: 04/29/17 00:45:10
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USA
  28-Apr-2017

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Australia
  28-Apr-2017




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