Movie Review: Mouthful
Yes, by the title you can pretty much assume which part of the male anatomy Robert G. Putka’s short comedy Mouthful will be primarily concerned with. However, one shouldn’t assume too much how the premise of a young man and woman discussing that anatomy will play out.
Putka essentially restages the same set-up as his previous short film, Hooka Face and the Virgin Boy. In Mouthful, another sexually anxious young man, Bobby (Conor Casey), gets pummelled with his own insecurities by a more experienced woman, Bliss (Eilis Cahill).
Despite Bobby and Bliss appearing to be about the same age — late teens to early ’20s — Bliss, we come to learn is way more emotionally mature than her anxiety-ridden boyfriend. Their maturity levels are so off that, in some ways, it appears that the two have, in fact, swapped gender roles.
In comedies, a man and a woman hanging out alone in a bedroom is typically the set up for aggressive male hi-jinx to engage in intercourse, typically to be spurned in humorous fashion by the woman. In Mouthful, while Bobby is exceptionally aggressive, it’s for entirely opposite purposes.
Bobby seems to be completely uninterested in having sex and instead relentlessly tries to coerce her into judging the size of his manhood. Or perhaps this is Bobby’s misguided attempt at seduction, immaturely thinking this is the way to gain Bliss’ affection. Either way, it places Bobby in the role of submissive instead of dominant, thus inverting the expected sexual dynamic of such situations. Although he may appear to be the aggressor thanks to his relentless barrage of questions, Bliss is the one who is in total control of the situation.
Initially, Bliss remains as mute as she can get away with in the situation. Again, this may look at first that she is being subjugated by the overbearing Bobby, but the film really picks up when Bliss fully assumes her dominant position. One or two honest answers from her and Bobby is immediately cut down to size.
Casey and Cahill play off of each other extremely well as they navigate the shifting roles of domination throught the brief plot. They are very easy with each other so that their relationship seems very natural, so that the plot doesn’t have to indulge in any awkward or forced exposition establishing their status as a couple. The audience can fill in whatever backstory it wants and be fine with multiple interpretations.
And not to take anything away from Casey, who is very good at keeping Bobby likeable despite his whiney aggression. But it’s really good to see Cahill put in another extremely strong, naturalistic performance as she did in Andrew Seman‘s excellent short drama All Day Long.
With Mouthful, Putka shows again that he’s very talented, in both writing and directing, at developing strong characters and having a great natural humor and drama grow organically out of their complex emotional interplay. And he’s really funny.