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film review

Amy Nostbakken, left, and Norah Sadava in Mouthpiece play different halves of a woman’s mind as she tries to write a eulogy for her mother.1996-98 AccuSoft Inc., All right/Courtesy of TIFF

  • Mouthpiece
  • Directed by: Patricia Rozema
  • Written by: Amy Nostbakken, Norah Sadava and Patricia Rozema
  • Starring: Amy Nostbakken, Norah Sadava and Maev Beaty
  • Classification: 14A; 91 minutes
  • 3 stars

When critics complain that Canadian cinema is too focused on small-scale, interior stories with little plot, they’re likely thinking of films such as Mouthpiece, which could hardly be more interior: an adaptation of an acclaimed experimental theatre piece in which two actors (Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava) play different halves of a woman’s mind as she tries to write a eulogy for her mother.

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Director Patricia Rozema has opened up the action – the women (er, woman) now ramble(s) around downtown Toronto, a gloriously lit metropolis pulsing with life – and brought the mother into the picture, played in honey-toned flashbacks by the luminous Maev Beaty. So, sure, very little happens: Cassandra searches for a dress, chooses flowers and a casket, and struggles to find the appropriate words with which to pay tribute to a complicated woman born into a world of limits. But in revealing Cassandra’s interior life, Rozema lays bare the modern female condition in an epic battle that is by turns lacerating, soothing and heartbreaking.

Mouthpiece opens June 7 at the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto (tiff.net).

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