More Heat than Light

Natalie Krill and Erika Linder in April Mullen’s “Below Her Mouth.” | GUNPOWDER & SKY DISTRIBUTION

Natalie Krill and Erika Linder in April Mullen’s “Below Her Mouth.” | GUNPOWDER & SKY DISTRIBUTION

The Canadian romantic drama “Below Her Mouth” may become an erotic lesbian cinema classic — its many sex scenes as hot as the two female protagonists — but the underlying story is hardly groundbreaking. It’s nothing readers of romance novels won’t find very familiar.

The film opens with Dallas having sex with Joslyn (Mayko Nguyen). Joslyn, writhing in passion, pauses to take a breath and declares her love for Dallas. But Dallas, a love ‘em and leave ‘em type, responds by saying she is moving out.

Not one to be alone for long, Dallas, who works as a roofer, catches sight of the fetching Jasmine, a fashion magazine editor, returning home one afternoon. They unexpectedly meet again that evening in the bathroom of a local bar during a “girl’s night.” The women flirt on a balcony, with Dallas claiming she has “no emotional stamina for intimacy” and Jasmine revealing she is engaged. Her fiancé, Rile, is away on business and moments later, the women are kissing. “It will never happen again,” Jasmine soon declares.

April Mullen’s “Below Her Mouth” is erotically charged but spare on plot

The frisson between the beauty and the butch is palpable, and when Jasmine spies Dallas out her window the next morning, she quickly heads to her bathtub to pleasures herself, a moment equally ludicrous and erotic but one that will satisfy anyone who appreciates glossy soft-core pornography. That night, when Jasmine finishes up work early to meet Dallas for “one drink,” she takes audiences along in exploring the possibilities of forbidden desires. When Dallas rests her hand between Jasmine’s legs in the bar, it is pretty clear where things are headed.

Director April Mullen, working from a screenplay by Stephanie Fabrizi, does best when she concentrates on the Sapphic sex — up against a wall outside the bar, in the bed of Dallas’ truck, on top of her kitchen table. “Below Her Mouth” pulses with erotic energy and may leave viewers trembling, especially when the women are biting each other’s nipples and rubbing their crotches together.

Of course, the film also needs dialogue — to give the sex scenes some emotional context and to fill the spaces between them — but a sequence in which the women hold hands and embrace while on a day trip together offers unremarkable insight, except for Dallas’ resistance to talk about her coming out, which suggests it wasn’t an issue for her. Jasmine admits she had a summer romance with a girl that ended when her mother discovered them, while Dallas insists she’s always been in charge of her sexuality. Her confidence is what makes her so damn sexy — though her striking blonde hair and blue eyes don’t hurt either.

“Beneath Her Mouth” reveals little about the characters beyond their bodies. The women exhibit some friskiness by slapping each other in Dallas’ truck before kissing in the rain and then heading into Jasmine’s house where Dallas uses a strap-on on her in the bathtub. The conflict over Jasmine’s engagement is clumsily telegraphed in a scene where Rile discovers his fiancé’s affair. The question of whether the two women will end up together provides what suspense there is in the film, with Dallas soothing her emotional pain in a strip club and Jasmine trying to rekindle the spark with Rile in the bathtub where she’s gotten off with Dallas and by herself.

The love triangle creates some plot tension, but “Beneath Her Mouth” is largely 94 minutes of erotic eye candy. As Dallas, dazz- ling newcomer Erika Linder sets the screen on fire, compelling simply by walking around her apartment topless — never mind in the film’s many sex scenes that will have some viewers swooning. Natalie Krill as Jasmine is equally committed in her full-bodied performance during the erotic encounters, but less convincing during dramatic moments — though that could be the fault of the flimsy script. In support, Sebastian Pigott as Rile has only a handful of scenes, but he too spends most of his screen time in the buff.

What Mullen’s film lacks in a strong story, it makes up for in its charged eroticism. Some viewers may feel the need to head for the bathtub Dallas enjoys so blissfully.

BELOW HER MOUTH | Directed by April Mullen | Gunpowder & Sky | Opens Apr. 28 | Cinema Village, 22 E. 12th St. |