It’s been said that Ellen Page almost didn’t get her role as the sadistic Haylie Stark in “Hard Candy” due to the bald head that accompanied her audition tape. It’s lucky she took on the role and gave one hell of a performance in one of the best films in the last six years. The film she was in at the time that spawned her Curly Joe doo is “Mouth to Mouth” one of the more obscure festival dramas released to date.
What with Page’s acclaimed career and popularity now in motion, “Mouth to Mouth” will be discovered more and more, and fans will be able to view Page in a more unique role as a cult member who shaves her head and finds she can not leave the group she’s pledged her allegiance to in a fit of rebellious rage.
Page has got it, she has talent, grace, looks, and so far, a sense of dignity in the roles she chooses, and “Mouth to Mouth” is a much more raw display of the talent she’s capable of than “Hard Candy,” which is saying a lot, considering I loved “Hard Candy.” Let’s just hope Page turns out better than Agnes Bruckner.
Based on director Murray’s true experiences, “Mouth to Mouth” is a gritty, original, and visceral film about a cult’s romantic hold on a vulnerable girl, and her impossible attempts to escape their clutches convincing her without them, she’s lost. It’s surprising to see such a sap as Sherry Green fall under the spell of this cult considering they’re really nothing but a band of traveling hobos.
They eat from dumpsters, sell broken electronics on the streets, sleep in the back of a van, and have an ideology that’s altogether hazy and vague. “Picture your perfect world,” the recruiter Harry whispers to a perspective member. What it means, is simply nothing but a typical question posed by any leader of a band of “radicals.”
The irony being that Sherry, a stray from a horribly dysfunctional family, is drawn to this group by the charismatic head Tiger, and discovers that she’s right back into a dysfunctional brood, that can’t get their s**t together, let alone recruit anyone on the streets. Through losing her virginity, discovering her sexuality, learning how to live on the streets, she eventually discovers everything this group preaches is nothing but empty promises, hypocrisy, manipulation, and the inevitable threat of bodily harm.
Page’s performance is nothing short of top notch as this confused adolescent who begins as this typical punk runaway, drawn into rebellion through conformity, and then learns that some ideologies in the wrong hands, just do not work as a way to function in society. Murray’s direction is fantastic as she manages to drown Page in her performance, with a great supporting role from Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, as the mental defect Mad Ax.
“Mouth to Mouth” is a film about Murray and coming to terms with her past as a cult member, seeking a purpose or a path, and alludes that she possibly never found one. “Mouth to Mouth” is a great reflection of her feelings toward that period.