Straight men and gay women may both find much to appreciate in April Mullen’s Canadian indie drama about the romance between a female roofer — yes, that’s right— and the supposedly straight woman she seduces into an affair. Below Her Mouth (you can use your imagination regarding the title) is an undeniably steamy effort that delivers plenty of heat in its sex scenes, while falling significantly short in dramatic terms. Theatrical exposure will be minimal, but the film should do fine in home-video formats that offer the advantage of fast-forwarding.
The Toronto-set story involves androgynous, blue-collar worker Dallas (model Erika Linder, an arresting visual presence), who, when first seen, is casually discarding her dejected girlfriend just after sleeping with her, and Jasmine (Natalie Krill), a successful fashion editor happily engaged to yuppie Rile (Sebastian Pigott), who conveniently spends much of his time traveling for business. When Dallas spots the gorgeous Jasmine while working on the building next door, it’s lust at first sight, and she wastes no time propositioning the object of her desire. Although flattered by the attention, Jasmine remains suitably standoffish at first, but, as is made evident by a torrid masturbation session she conducts in her bathtub while Dallas hammers away at a roof, her ardor has been awakened.
The ensuing courtship and romance features plenty of girl-on-girl action that’s far more vivid and passionate than anything on late-night cable. Unfortunately, it’s frequently interrupted by dramatic scenes featuring dialogue on the order of, “Have you ever tried to count how many breaths you take in a minute?” and, “I’ve got no emotional stamina for intimacy.” Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren would have trouble getting away with these sorts of risible exchanges, and suffice it to say that the two lead actresses here are not Streep and Mirren.
The sort of cliched erotic drama that features a steamy make-out session conducted by the two principals in the pouring rain — because, really, where else would you want to do it? — Below Her Mouth at least earns points for its happy ending. Happy, that is, except for the hapless Rile, who discovers that, despite his GQ-style handsomeness, a woman’s heart wants what it wants.
And in case you were worried about the male gaze or exploitation, be advised that the film’s creative team is entirely composed of women. Which represents progress, of a sort.
Production companies: Serendipity Point Films, Distant Horizon, Telefilm Canada
Distributor: Gunpowder & Sky
Cast: Erika Linder, Natalie Krill, Sebastian Pigott, Mayko Nguyen, Tommie-Amber Pirie, Melanie Leishman, Andrea Stefancikova
Director: April Mullen
Screenwriter: Stephanie Fabrizi
Producer: Melissa Coghlan
Director of photography: Maya Bankovic
Production designer: Faye Mullen
Costume designer: Zeina Esmail
Editor: Michelle Szemberg
Casting: Jason Knight