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Below Her Mouth

Year: 2016
Production Co: Serendipity Point Films
Director: April Mullen
Writer: Stephanie Fabrizi
Cast: Erika Linder, Natalie Krill

And you thought Blue Is The Warmest Color was erotic. The stars of Below Her Mouth, Erika Linder and Natalie Krill, shed their gear and roll around in their altogether masturbating, making love and simply talking with gay (excuse the pun) abandon.

Blue Is The Warmest Color wasn't actually the film that got me interested in the small but lively lesbian romantic drama genre. I've been seeking them out since the heart-meltingly beautiful Room In Rome, and although you'll roll your eyes and snigger when I tell you it's not about seeing attractive actresses in various states of undress (but is that a bonus? What do you think I am, an idiot?), they're usually about people breaking out of shells imposed by society, finding their true selves and taking flight, and I find that one of the most beautiful motifs in entertainment. It's ultimately the same reason I loved movies like Revolutionary Road and American Beauty – Kevin Spacey notwithstanding.

I think I respond to it more so when it's about women finding and falling in love with their true sexuality because women get a raw deal in the world when it comes to what they really want. To watch a girl like Jasmine (Krill) find and accept her deepest feelings and desires for the first time is one of the most sexually ravishing and emotionally resonant things it's possible to see.

Below her Mouth is also more accomplished than most dramas because Dallas (Linder), a Swedish-born roofer now living in Toronto, is kind of a bitch. When we meet her she's in a relationship with a woman who's clearly in love with her, and she barely bats an eyelid when telling her girlfriend she doesn't feel the same way and that's she basically just there for the place to say and the sex. When the girlfriend tells her to leave we don't wish good things upon Dallas at all.

But as she works with her small crew and goes out to bars frequented by Toronto's young gay crowd she sees Jasmine and is smitten. Jasmine is a pretty all-American cheerleader type who has all the elements of a rewarding life in place, from a glamourous career to her engagement to a straight up and down, good looking man. Dallas' relentless pursuit of her as she goes out with a friend for a drink borders on stalking, but Jasmine is intrigued enough not to blow her off completely.

Fate – as well as Dallas' dogged determination – puts them in each other's paths a few more times, and Jasmine gradually gives in to her building desire for Dallas, their relationship progressing with time and touch until they both appear to have it bad for each other.

Director April Mullen (88) lets the relationship unfold langourously, just like the time the girls spend together doing everything new couples do, but despite the haze of romantic pleasure, Jasmine is still engaged to someone else. When he returns from a work trip to walk in on them in the bath together it's edited in such a way for it to be genuinely heartbreaking, without any of the trappings or motifs the rom-com or porn version of the same idea would contain. These are three people authentically hurt.

The heartbreak colours everything that comes after. Jasmine's fiance demands she break it off with Dallas and all their lives are made worse. While trying to respond sexually to him after a bath together, Jasmine breaks down. Dallas goes back to the bars and her work and even seeks solace in the girlfriend she treated so terribly.

It ends on a very ambiguous note – have they thrown away their former lives and got back together after all like you hope? Have they decided to remain friends, the passion of their short affair a warm, shared secret? The script by Stephanie Fabrizi isn't interested in giving you a resolution, it just wants to share the heat and emotion of falling in love. And with two attractive leads who share a real chemistry, Below her Mouth does so.

For the longest time throughout the movie you wonder if Linder just isn't a very good actress. She tends to let her dark, stormy and downcast eyes and sullen, too-cool-to-smile manner do all the work for her, but it's not enough to distract from the character. She also makes a really interesting counterpoint to Jasmine's preppy good girl, and they don't appear to be cast as polar opposites just to seem the most different from each other, both of them feeling like very real people.

We never really have any indication that Jamsine's unfulfilled, for instance – the bathtub masturbation scene doesn't exactly reveal particular sexual frustration with her life, but the fact that it happens one morning when she's aware Dallas has been watching her is telling. It's not until much later, when Jasmine tells the story of her mother's horror at discovering her fumbling erotic experimentation with a girl in her teens, that we understand something pivotal about her.

The amount of flesh on display almost makes it high quality porn, but unlike the usual kind this has a uniquely female outlook. At every stage – in every moan and caress – the sexual allure is inextricably connected to how the two women feel. It's as erotic, emotional and affecting as sex itself should be.

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