Mouth to Mouth
The film itself may not be as powerful as Hard Candy is, but it does deliver an interesting story with some stronger moments.
Without much warning she’s off on the road with them to a music festival, and as soon as they are on the road it’s clear that she’s being indoctrinated to their group. As the festival passes she stays on and heads to the commune where they live, becoming part of the group. However when her mother arrives and begins to get pulled into the same group, she starts to realise what’s going on around her.
The story tackles an interesting topic, of how someone becomes involved with a group very reminiscent of a cult and how a charismatic leader can have so much influence over others.
It’s really these aspects of the story that provide for the most fascinating moments, when the leader is interacting with people and controlling them for his own means, or when events turn against him and how he deals with the situation to try and regain that control.
Eric Thal plays the leader, and he gives a great performance. I would have loved a stronger focus on him, his psyche, and how he controls the group. As it is though he does give a good performance and there are some scenes that bring through how he controls the group without making it the fore of the story.
It’s another strong performance from Page, and one that has undoubtedly helped her on her way to the success that she’s experiencing today. Her character starts off quiet and confused and for a while you really do wonder if she did have the talent that she shows in later films, however this changes during the latter half of the film.
It’s during the later stages where we see her character totally open herself up to the leader of the group that she really begins to have a better storyline to work with, and when she begins to struggle with the rules and starts to fight back against them, is when we really see a strong performance from her.
The mother, played by Natasha Wightman, gives a good performance too, working well alongside Page and bringing out a tension on screen between her and Page's character.
It is an interesting story, but the ending felt a little flat and I was wondering what we were supposed to be feeling or thinking at that point. For me I was wondering if there was going to be an ending as where we ended up raised more questions than answers and the questions that were raised were all about threads and characters left hanging.
The story feels a little stilted at times, playing out almost like a stage play with short transitions between the scenes to demonstrate a passage of time. It's as though all the characters are walking off stage and the scenery and location being changed very quickly.
Some strengths of the story are where it subtly examines the cult and the leader without going in ham fisted and ending up feeling like a documentary examination. Where the story moves closer to the leader and as the influence of the cult grows and watching how the others affect the overall feeling is the most interesting part of the film.
Watching that feeling erode and be brought into question is equally as interesting, and how the leader brings it back together, even through large amounts of disbelief and logical thought from the members.
The relationship between the mother and daughter begins to get interesting when they both end up at the commune. Here we see an extra dimension of the relationship, and the typical roles that we see when the mother first turns up are reversed.
There are some powerful individual scenes too, perhaps the strongest being with the skip and the shock thereafter. Watching the characters deal with what has happened and the personal reaction of them is both unnerving and engaging.
The film does present some interesting questions and views on the inside of cults such as there, where an individual or individuals are controlling a group of people for their own ends. The mother-daughter relationship adds something different to it, and you'll find that there's enough to keep you engaged throughout.
I just felt very let down by the ending and it left so many things out in the open and unanswered. Still, there's the strong story and the good performances from Page, Thal and Wightman.