Soft moaning, heavy breathing, and images of two sweaty bodies moving together. Below Her Mouth, the latest lesbian love story to hit select theatres, opens with a steamy scene – perfectly setting the tone for this sex-driven, ethically questionable, girl-meets-straight-girl romantic drama.
Dallas (Erika Linder), the androgynous, smooth-talking, disinterested charmer unexpectedly falls for Jasmine (Natalie Krill) – a well-to-do fashion editor who also happens to be straight … and engaged. The film follows the pair as they experience lust, love, emotional wreckage, and sex – all of the sex.
The film – written by Stephanie Fabrizi, directed by April Mullen, and produced by Melissa Coghlan – was created by an all-female production crew. According to Mullen, curating a women-only crew became their “mandate” and something they're incredibly proud of achieving. “It made sense for this film – for the subject matter," Mullen told the Chronicle. "And it helped us reach our original goal of capturing this story from the female perspective.” Because of this, Below Her Mouth offers an unadulterated look at love and relationships from the eyes of queer women.
In fact, the story's rawness is what drew Mullen to direct the film. “When I read it I instantly connected to the power of attraction between the two characters and how spontaneous and out of the blue that can be,” said Mullen. “Something like that happened in my life – this force of attraction that happens when you least expect it and then it changes your life forever.”
Below Her Mouth captures the emotions behind instant infatuation with desire playing a large role in the film. The rampant sex scenes take up a lot of space because Mullen wanted to celebrate queer sex. In her opinion, lesbian sex scenes are too often filmed for (and by) the male gaze. With Below Her Mouth, Mullen hoped to offer a different perspective to queer women's sex and their orgasms.[image-1-left]
“There’s a scene that really explores the female orgasm and it's done with such freedom. I feel like that’s very rarely depicted in film, media, TV, or advertising. It’s kind of an unknown territory that we don’t really explore.”
At the end of the day, Below Her Mouth succeeds at being a film by, for, and about women – a feat rarely seen on the silver screen. “[We managed to] deliver something new and refreshing for audiences,” said Mullen. But it’s not just women this film is appealing to. Mullen proudly admits she’s received a lot of positive feedback from a younger queer audience. According to the director, millennials aren’t finding relatable representation in film or on television. “The younger generation really has this amazing new sense of sexuality and genderless sort of androgyny,” said Mullen. “Those people find the film to be honest, raw, and encouraging. They’re connecting to it on many different levels.”
Below Her Mouth screens Wednesday, April 26, at 7pm as part of the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival’s monthly film series. Mullen will Skype in after the premiere for a Q&A with the audience.
Copyright © 2019 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.