Mouthpiece: The BRWC Review

Mouthpiece: The BRWC Review

Freud long ago shattered the delusion that ours is a unified self.  Our actions are not merely piloted by a conscious unified self, but also by an unconscious.  After Freud, psychoanalysts and philosophers have even added further fractures to the conscious self.  Our personalities are a strange brew made up of our internal experience of self, our external persona shown to the world, and the ideologies in culture and society that influence our personalities from the outside.  Within this brew, it is nearly impossible to separate all the ingredients that make up the self. 

Director Patricia Rozema’s Mouthpiece captures a fractured individual dealing with the recent loss of a parent.  Cassandra is brilliantly played by both Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava.  Nostbakken and Sadava are together in virtually every scene of Mouthpiece.  The other characters experience Cassandra as one person.  The viewer is witness to Cassandra’s internal dialogue, personified by the two Cassandras.  When Nostbakken’s Cassandra acts or says something, Sadaya’s Cassandra contradicts her, doubts her, or adds an additional layer to the character. 

Nostbakken and Sadaya play off each other using perfect timing—a requirement if one is to pull off such a performance.  Right after learning of her mother’s (Maev Beaty) death, both actresses grieve the sudden passing.  The scenes of Nostbakken and Sadaya grieving capture the reason why Mouthpiece works so well.  Nostbakken’s Cassandra is a limp noodle of grief, barely capable of lifting herself out of bed.  Sadaya’s Cassandra has to muster the energy to comfort her grieving brother.  If that does not capture the mix of emotions inherent in the grieving process, the internal push and pull we universally feel in those moments; then nothing does.   



Mouthpiece is based on a theatrical play.  Rozema takes the source material and does exactly what film should do—use the visuals of film to enhance the themes in the original material.  When the Cassandras bike through Toronto’s streets, we see glossy billboards of women.  In a world wherein a woman is told to “be her true self” while advertising and social media set many of the ideals of how she is supposed to look and act; is it any surprise that we have two Cassandras, one that has sex with a man while the other criticizes her body?  One Cassandra enjoys the pleasures of the body, the other does not allow her to enjoy those pleasures.  Another scene has one Cassandra practicing a eulogy in front of a meat display in a supermarket.  The commentary on death and the erosion of the body are beautifully conveyed by Rozema in the depressing supermarket lighting.    

The Cassandras’s commitment to give the eulogy at their mother’s funeral makes many memories and anxieties resurface.  They remember the nurture given by their mother but also why they resent her.  A Christmas party in which their mother pressures the Cassandras to have a baby, in front of guests, unleashes a drunken tirade by one of the Cassandras.  The problem is that their mother was also fractured.  She was split between a professional writing career and fulfilling the other role she adopted, mother.  She is in tune with what truly matters—art, literature, the beauty in Joni Mitchell’s lyrics—but also makes sure not to eat French fries so as to not get fat. 

French fries are one of the keys to understanding the Cassandras’s split.  One Cassandra does not like fries but makes sure to order them so that others see that she does not care about getting fat.  This complex dynamic of not liking something but doing it so that the outside world sees us a certain way, all the while deriving internal satisfaction over knowing that we are not like our parents; this is one of the many ways in which Mouthpiece works.             

There is one scene that feels out of place in Mouthpiece.  The scene involves a stylized fight sequence involving the two Cassandras right before giving the eulogy.  It made me think of Fight Club, a memory that should not have been conjured up in me by a movie that was up till that scene complex, beautifully acted, and subtle. 

If we place a parenthesis on that scene, a separation from the rest of the film, Mouthpiece captures the difficulties women face, the roles and expectations that pull them in different directions, and the psychological toll it takes.     


We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on our social channels, subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.


Trending on BRWC:

Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1

Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1

By BRWC / 9th July 2024
I Saw The TV Glow: The BRWC Review

I Saw The TV Glow: The BRWC Review

By BRWC / 25th June 2024
Inside Out 2: The BRWC Review

Inside Out 2: The BRWC Review

By BRWC / 23rd June 2024
Boys Like You: The BRWC Review

Boys Like You: The BRWC Review

By Rudie Obias / 21st June 2024
Spirited Away: Review

Spirited Away: Review

By BRWC / 28th June 2024

Cool Posts From Around the Web:



A Cuban-American obsessed with documentaries and anything by Kubrick, Haneke, Breillat, or McQueen. If he is not watching films in his hometown of Miami, he is likely travelling somewhere in Asia enjoying okonomiyaki or pho.

NO COMMENTS

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.