Below Her Mouth (April Mullen, Canada) — Special Presentations

belowhermouth_crop_01By Adam Nayman

Nomi Malone’s swimming-pool gyrations in Showgirls (1995) have nothing on the scene in Below Her Mouth where fashion editor Jasmine (Natalie Krill) brings herself to orgasm via a full-blast bathtub faucet while perched perilously over the porcelain basin; if nothing else, it’s quite a display of upper-body strength. So, credit director April Mullen for trying to bring some unabashed eroticism to her girl-meets-girl drama, which pairs buttoned-down, betrothed, and quietly bi-curious (at least) Jasmine with fuck-’em-and-leave-’em roofer Dallas (the slightly Kristen Stewart-ish Erika Linder), who share a blissful, unplanned weekend together in beds across Toronto’s East End; and the fact that a movie featuring explicit, seemingly unsimulated same-sex sex scenes has been filed under “controversial” by journalists trying to cobble together trend pieces is deeply silly in 2016. Easy shots at cultural puritanism aside, however, there’s still a difference between intention and execution, and the latter is lacking here. It’s hard to see the ultimate upshot (political or otherwise) in a film populated exclusively by slender, magazine-layout-pretty young women, and the automatic riposte to that criticism– that heteronormative Hollywood rom-coms freely indulge in all manner of beauty-mythification—merely reeks of if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em. If the film is meant as a fantasy, it’s a prosaic and laboured one; if it’s meant as realism, it’s hard to take seriously. Below Her Mouth’s more significant claim to relevance is its all-female crew, but while Maya Bankovic’s cinematography is typically fine, the production’s incursion against a male-centric industrial infrastructure is unfortunately in the service of subpar material.