In Mouthpiece, two women play the lead character. Not with strategic editing or a duel Sliding Doors-esque narrative, but simultaneously on-screen. While this may sound like an excuse for the filmmakers to showboat and earn arthouse cred, the results couldn’t be farther from being just a fancy trick.
Taking place within a 48-hour period, Cassandra (played by Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava) mourns through the heartbreak of her mother’s sudden passing as she’s given tasks to prepare for the funeral. This includes writing a personal eulogy, which trudges up Cassandra’s unresolved issues of her mom, along with happier memories of Cass’ youthful admiration towards her. Further driving home the film’s encompassing theme of psychological struggles, the duelling lead performances also represent Cassandra’s splintered personality, and her daily living that’s already riddled with anxiety.
Nostbakken and Sadava (real-life playwrights who are also the film’s screenwriters, adapting their play of the same name) are extraordinary in every element of their co-roles. Their ability to stay in-sync with each other is miraculous, and they’re just as strong as individuals as they distance themselves to portray levels of contrasting conflict. As Cass’ mom Elaine, Maev Beaty also gives an understated performance that gradually blooms throughout the film. Just as in theatre, all three actors (as well as writer/director Patricia Rozema) find the necessary chemistry to uncover Mouthpiece’s rhythmic groove that carefully balances a tightrope-walking style with a poignant story of grief and growth.
Mouthpiece is the real deal, and will undoubtably connect with audiences.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie