Below her Mouth is a simple story. One that follows two women and the immediate connection that pulls them into a life altering weekend love affair.
Dallas (Erika Linder), is the emotionally remorseless, yet undeniably confident gal that all the girls want to be with. Jasmine (Natalie Krill), is the successful yet sexually undecided fashion editor with life all seemingly perfectly laid out.
The two meet, it gets physical and Jasmineís fiancť, Riley (Sebastain Pigott), is thrown in to up the stakes. And thatís really all there is to it. The plot does not get thicker. The characters donít get any deeper.
The film, along with the leading characters, starts out with a feeling of a first date. Everyone's trying too hard with an uncomfortable level of lip pouting, hip swinging and pelvic projection making you want to lower your head in a feeling of familiar disappointment.
Krill in particular does not look comfortable in the role and a little more out of place then the creative team may have intended her to be. Linder on the other hand, while partaking in a distracting amount of hair flicking and demonstrating a first time attempt at feature film acting, did bring a more authentic portrayal to the character of Dallas.
Thankfully however, both story and characters find a more relatable authenticity as Dallas finds herself drawn away from her old patterns of emotional detachment, and Jasmine opens to possibilities long forgotten. The urban lighting and soundtrack palette that was created for Dallas also merges beautifully with Linderís moody delivery, and allows a glimpse into the underlying ability of cast and crew to mold ideas and their presentation.
At times, cringe-worthy dialogue demonstrates that Below her Mouth is Stefanie Fabriziís first screen writing attempt, but ultimately what the film lacks is subtlety. The montage of pillow talk confessions, as a weekend of love and lust unfolds, lacks the subtlety required to draw an audience into the intimacy and vulnerability of such moments. This simple story of awakening to an uncontrollable connection between two people has all the right backdrops, but fails in the subtlety that would draw it together into something bigger.
For all the film lacks, the back story to this production is where it is important. From screen writer and director to grips and electricians, an all-female crew was assembled in an attempt to bring an authentic female perspective to the telling of a female love story.
Director April Mullen noted how during shooting she kept bumping up against the traditionally masculine portrayal of sex scenes, and how this required a constant revisiting of how to bring back the female perspective. There is no doubt the sex scenes are brazen and unapologetic in the normalising of womenís sexual desires.
The juxtaposition of familiarity and discomfort in watching these scenes in Below her Mouth can only mean that Mullen has got it right, and introduced us to a shift that needs to happen in the portrayal of womenís sexuality Ė no matter their sexual orientation.