Mouth to Mouth (tbc)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner07/05/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 101 mins

Dark, disturbing and occasionally downright heartbreaking, this is an intriguingly written coming of age tale with a terrific, decidedly un-Juno-like central performance from Ellen Page.

What's it all about?
Made in 2005 (before Hard Candy and X-Men 3) but released to cash in on Ellen Page's post-Juno success, Mouth to Mouth stars Page as Sherry, a lip-ringed teenage runaway who joins a cult called SPARK (Street People Armed with Radical Knowledge) while bumming her way around Europe. Ostensibly SPARK seems dedicated to picking up homeless drug addicts and helping them get clean, but the charismatic leader, Harry (Eric Thal) keeps a suspiciously tight reign on his acolytes.

Just as Sherry makes up her mind to leave, her attractive mother (Natasha Wightman) comes looking for her and ends up joining the cult herself, exacerbating the tension between mother and daughter.

The Good
Ellen Page gives a completely different performance to the wise-cracking teens we've seen in Juno and the upcoming Smart People. Sherry is awkward and clunky, saying very little and hiding herself away in baggy t-shirts and heavy make-up – as such she's an instantly recognisable teenager and you're painfully aware that she doesn't really know what she's getting herself into.

In addition, Eric Thal has a terrifically intimidating presence as the burly, muscular Harry (who spends the entire film shirtless, Tyler Durden-style), while there's strong support from Wightman as Sherry's flighty mother (who you just want to slap) and from Maxwell McCabe-Lokos as Mad Ax, who starts out incredibly annoying, but gradually becomes Sherry's best friend.

The Great
Writer-director Alison Murray (who left home at 15) maintains an uneasy atmosphere where you're never quite sure what's going to happen next - one moment she'll have a delightful, Hal Hartley-esque moment of impromptu choreography (with Sherry and her mother goofing around and dancing), the next there'll be a heart-breaking or disturbing scene, such as when Sherry loses her virginity.

Worth seeing?
Mouth to Mouth is an unusual, thought-provoking and frequently unsettling film that deserves to be seen. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 19/10/2018 16:09

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