Mouthpiece

I love when filmmakers take risks, when they throw out the “rules” of what can and can’t be filmed, when they mash genres and artforms, when they aim at telling stories in new ways. Mouthpiece fits the bill. Patricia Rozema took a one-hour stage play featuring two women in bathing suits and a bathtub and morphed it into a 90 min dynamo of a film. And importantly, she did this collaboratively with the playwrights who also star, Norah Sadava and Amy Nostbakken. 

There are still a lot of theatrical elements on display here - a couple of musical numbers that shine, and some fascinating layered and chorus-like voice work by the two leads. I love when filmmakers experiment with theatre tricks on film. And it works especially well here because though the film is set in the real world, we already have a sense of the surreal or fantastic because of the way the divided nature of Cassandra is presented. 

Cinematography and sound design are on point here too - this film is gorgeous. We’re voyeurs here (as always) but the shots feel empathetic, concerned, caring. And I love how certain scenes were cut to represent the associations we make in our brains - memories coming in unbidden and fragmented. 

Story-wise, this film is rich, mining the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters - that deep well of love that is sometimes punctuated with judgement and criticism as we compare ourselves to each other and to what we think women should be. It’s also an honest and resonate exploration of grief. The surreal elements of the film lend themselves well to this too, to capturing the disorientation and waves of emotion that hit you in the wake of a loss. 

This film might be too artsy, too experimental, too female for some. No distributor has picked it up yet, euphemistically calling it “too local” - the classic dismissal of Canadian film. The film breaks rules. But as Rozema says: “There are no rules. Just be compelling!” And I found this film compelling as hell.