Below Her Mouth, directed by April Mullen and written by Stephanie Fabrizi, is a bad film. And, by virtue of it interrupting its best sex scene through a plot point as weakly written as the rest of it, it’s barely passable as the porno it wants to be.
The film opens on Dallas (played by Erika Linder, a Swedish supermodel of exactly—and I mean exactly—one facial expression) riding her current girlfriend to climax, moments before said girlfriend figures out that Dallas isn’t interested in her anymore. A few crass scenes with a whole lot of toxic masculinity later establishes that Dallas discards women as soon as things start getting serious. This, of course, changes when she meets Jasmine (played by Natalie Krill, a dancer who is at least physically magnetic if hardly more talented than Linder). Jasmine is a fashion editor whose “style is engaged to a man.” Yes, that is an actual line in the film along with stunners such as, “Even inanimate objects aren’t safe from you” and “You’ve known for me for six, almost seven years!”
What follows is a sexcapade that relies entirely on the film’s lighting to indicate its mood scene-to-scene, more strap-on cameos than I knew I would ever witness outside an actual porno, and a whole lot of titillation without any substance supporting it. If not for the camerawork that diligently captures every scene and the moody lighting that allows a few aesthetically pleasing shots, the whole hour and thirty minutes would be a wash. As it is, there is a point where, against all odds, the story works because of these elements, and it’s not during one of the sex scenes the film is so obsessed with. Instead, it happens in a sequence where between cliche shots of the two women on a merry-go-round, Jasmine asks Dallas when she came out. Dallas responds, “Which story do you want? It’s not one that ever ends.”
It’s the closest the film comes to examining the queer girl existence without fucking. Which isn’t to say that the fucking is bad. Krill’s dancer background serves her well in an extended bathtub-set masturbation sequence. Linder wears a strap-on as naturally as the men’s clothes that got her global headlines. But for some reason, the writers really, really want you to believe that the two for all their absolute negative chemistry actually like one another. It talks over moments that should be slow and quiet like a grifter desperate for your credit card. And like if you handed your credit card over, you feel stupid and ripped off after the experience.
The threshold for most lesbian films is, “it didn’t end tragically.” Below Her Mouth’s threshold comes closer to, “it didn’t give me blue labia.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t even accomplish this.
Below Her Mouth is out now in select theatres and on video on demand.
Ray Sonne contributes to The Guardian, Women Write About Comics, Comics Bulletin and more. You can find her on Twitter at @RaySonne