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In many ways, the rise of lesbian romance films in both indie and mainstream movies feel naturally progressive, sustained and inspired by continually shifting attitudes that allow for more nuanced and deeper examinations of these relationships. Exploration leads to enlightenment and for this reason, any film that does so deserves praise.
There is no mistaking the direction Below Her Mouth wants to take, right from the start establishing the film’s almost aggressive interest in the sexual interplay between the women in the story, threading a tale that mostly earns the numerous explicit scenes it has on tap, of which a very large portion of the film dedicates itself. It’s clearly comfortable demonstrating the physical lust, emotional or otherwise, these women share, leaving the underlying consequences of their actions less impactful.
Jasmine (Natalie Krill) is a young beautiful editor for a Toronto fashion magazine, planning her wedding to Rile (Sebastian Pigott), a man devoted to her and their future. Across the way from her home, roofers cat call to her in expected ways, though one of them catches her eye. That she’s a woman is the puzzling part for her, a blonde girl named Dallas (Erika Linder) that seems equally drawn to her. Dallas is a bit of tomboy. She owns the business and carries on many affairs but is taken in by Jasmine and the two begin an intimate sexual relationship, which naturally turns to something much, much more. But with a wedding on the horizon, Jasmine must decide her future.
Directed by April Mullen, Below Her Mouth is going to draw comparisons, especially to the recent also sexually-explicit Blue is the Warmest Color, though there are differences. This film, which is made almost predominately by women, is really a story of opposites on parallel paths as the two leads discover what they already know to be true within themselves, even if one is hard-lined about it and the other is only learning how much so in the arms of the other. The movie is talky when is takes a break from the sex, with Jasmine and Dallas searching for each other’s core, which often lead to those moments of enlightenment, even if they are far and few between.
To be sure, Below Her Mouth is at minimum, softcore pornography with a dozen or more scenes of lengthy lesbian sex featuring fully nude and very explicit moments, some that follow each other only a few minutes after the last. Krill and Linder, who has a Scandinavian Kristen Stewart look and style about her, are obviously very comfortable nude and share what appear to be un-simulated intimate moments throughout, and for that, despite the sometimes thorny voyeurism, it builds to a kind of authenticity that perhaps might not have worked quite so effectively when a jarring moment of truth devastates both girls if the movie avoided such moments.
Below The Mouth is unsurprisingly quiet, a moody and introspective experience that might have benefitted from more depth in the characters. We spend so much time with the girls in scenes of sexual exploration we barely learn about anything else aside from the angst of love and loss. I’m reminded of a film called Imagine You & Me (2005) where two women fall in love while one is recently married, a comedy drama that let that relationship be about the personality rather than the sex, and it’s certainly a sign of the times that Below The Mouth can explore more of the sex and there’s no denying the rawness of this film, however it ultimately lacks the gut punch it feels like it wants to have.
Finding appeal in Below The Mouth is going to be divided, no doubt, with its extreme sexuality perhaps marking it unwatchable for many who could enjoy the honest romance, yet there are good moments otherwise that challenge, even if the end feels a little too on the nose.
Movie description: Below Her Mouth is a 2017 drama about two women who share an unexpected affair that changes them forever.
Director(s): April Mullen
Actor(s): Erika Linder, Natalie Krill, Sebastian Pigott
Genre: Lesbian, Romance