Below Her Mouth
by Hope Madden
In a world where thin, beautiful, braless women look hot at work, stare longingly at each other and writhe sensually across the screen, are we supposed to see art where art is not just because Below Her Mouth is a film made by and (ostensibly) for women?
Writer Stephanie Fabrizi and director April Mullen – with an entirely female crew – bring to life the threadbare tale of an uptight good girl whose wild side is ignited by a chance encounter with a bad boy.
The fact that the bad boy is female is beside the point.
No, unfortunately, it is the only point.
Dallas and Jasmine – I swear to God, those are their names – are stiffly played by Erika Linder and Natalie Krill, respectively. Both cut impressive figures and are clearly comfortable with nudity.
Their chemistry is forced and inauthentic, their dialog weak, their storyline nearly nonexistent. What little plot there is – straight, engaged Jasmine indulges her fantasy with Bowie-esque roofer Dallas while her beau is out of town – feels more like porn than like a real movie.
There’s a reason for that.
Below Her Mouth is bound to garner comparisons to Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is the Warmest Color – to its terminal detriment. Though Blue has its flaws, it tells a powerful story very well and boasts utterly brilliant performances. And, like Alain Guiraudie’s equally sexually graphic Stranger by the Lake, Blue’s vivid – almost exhausting- carnality supports the narrative.
Below Her Mouth strings together almost enough narrative to frame a dozen or two sex scenes.
Is there something to be said for taking that oh-so-heterosexual film structure (good girl/bad boy, not porn) and upending it? Shouldn’t Mullen be praised for subverting ideas of sexual objectification – if that’s what she’s doing? (We can objectify us just as much as you can – is that the theme at work here?)
Should she be applauded for bringing an entirely female-made film to our theaters?
No. Because the movie sucks.