Film

“Below Her Mouth” Shows That Women Can Make Nineties-Style Cable TV Softcore, Too

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Before we see anything in Below Her Mouth (spoiler alert: The below in the title probably refers to a woman’s naughty bits), we hear sexual moaning. This Canadian lesbian drama is basically softcore porn, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It recalls the late-night cable fare of the 1990s — about which you’re welcome to some nostalgia. The plot concerns — what else? — an illicit affair. Dallas (Erika Linder) is a chicly butch roofer recently out of a relationship. Jasmine (Natalie Krill) is a pouty fashion editor engaged to Rile (Sebastian Pigott), a bland yuppie. One night out on the town, Dallas and Jasmine meet, and within days they begin a torrid tryst.

Linder possesses a compelling, Kurt Cobain-like androgyny, but neither she nor Krill can do much to save the portentous screenplay. To its credit, the film was written and directed by women, preempting accusations of the male gaze; still, when Jasmine directs a model at her job with the instruction “I want her nude on top,” it plays like a teen boy’s imagination. The dialogue alternates between cliché (“I’ve never done anything like this before”) and self-consciously arty (“Have you ever tried to count how many breaths you take in a minute?”). In the most progressive moment, Jasmine asks to hear Dallas’s coming-out story. “Why do I have to have one?” she replies. It’s a good point, and while Below Her Mouth’s mise en scène consists of about 75 percent nude female bodies, and verges on gratuitous, at least it’s nice to see a queer couple meet a happy end.

Below Her Mouth

Directed by April Mullen

Gunpowder and Sky Distribution

Opens April 28, Cinema Village

Available on demand