Disclaimer: a middle aged straight (but not narrow) white guy reviewing Canadian lesbian drama Below Her Mouth probably won’t sit well with everyone. I’m going to do my best to serve the film and the reader and not be creepy about it. Wish me luck! Here we go.
In this tight passionate drama set in Toronto, Dallas (Erika Linder) is working on the roof when beautiful Jasmine (Natalie Krill) arrives home and parks her car. The workers catcall her. Dallas smirks and says under her breath “I’d give her a ride” and we’re off to the races with obsession and romance.
“If you’ve seen The L Word, then you’ve seen this story.“
The unearthly beauty of Dallas stretches suspension of disbelief as played by the nearly physically perfect androgynous fashion model Erika Linder. These are not qualities typically found in those practicing the roofing profession, no offense meant to roofers.
Let’s get this part out of the way early: A great deal of the movie depicts beautiful women having sex, a lot, graphically, in good light. It’s more intense than Blue Is The Warmest Color. I’m not suggesting that’s a reason to watch the film. In fact the issue of male gaze looms and you maybe oughten to watch it depending on who you are and why you do. That’s beyond the scope of this review and above my pay grade.
If you’ve seen The L Word then you’ve seen this story. The film is easy to watch, great pace and camera work to frame the budding romance between Dallas and Jasmine. It was made entirely by women with great care taken to avoid male influence on set and make sure every aspect came from a woman’s perspective. That works impressively well here.
Jasmine identifies initially as heterosexual (we are led to assume) and is engaged to hunky Rile. She bumps into Dallas again at a “girl party” she and her friend wander into on a lark. Dallas sees the opening and presses Jasmine hard to go on a date. Jasmine eventually agrees since Rile is out of town on work and the stage is set for an intense affair with the aforementioned sex, relationship complications, and heartbreak. Somebody is going to lose.
“It was made entirely by women with great care taken to avoid male influence on set…”
There’s not much more to the film than that. It’s beautifully produced. All the actors are beautiful, including Sebastian Pigott as Rile. He makes a good negative test for gay women checking in on their own orientation (or straight men, for that matter).
The impulsive behavior of both main characters is jarring. Dallas is going through hook-ups at a high rate of turnover. She has a repulsion to intimacy because of unresolved issues and takes a mean scorched-earth approach to break-ups. She’s also pushy and forceful in a way that seems to leave enthusiastic consent standing with its jaw dropped until she actually gets it. Jasmine is a fashion editor who lives her life among pretty things and people, seemingly settled into her trajectory with Rile but then she acts with complete abandon when the tornado that is Dallas roars into her life.
As badass as Dallas’s leather jacket, Below Her Mouth is not subtle. The title means what you think it does. The perspective of only women telling the story narratively and visually creates a powerful class of film and for that alone it’s worth the time.
Released in theaters and streaming April 28th, 2017.
Below Her Mouth (2017) Directed by April Mullen. Written by Stephanie Fabrizi. Starring Erika Linder, Natalie Krill, Sebastian Pigott .
7 out of 10