by Sean Uyehara|
Sherry, a hip but impressionable Londoner, joins a roving cult of homeless youth called SPARKStreet People Armed with Radical Knowledgein celebrated short filmmaker Alison Murrays first feature. With SPARK, Sherry parties across Europe, until they eventually take over a disused vineyard in Portugal. Soon Sherrys mother comes looking for her, but enamored with SPARKs dropout mentality, Mom decides to remain. The group becomes a surrogate family to Sherry, serving as background for Murrays exploration of familial power struggles, reminiscent of the percolating tensions in films by Mouth to Mouths executive producer Atom Egoyan. The subject matter is perfect for showcasing Murrays cultivated strengths as a director. As in her short films, which explore contemporary youth and street culture, focusing especially on the dynamics of dance as expression, Murray introduces a choreographic logic that will carry the films story. The film opens with Sherry, played with amazing acumen by Ellen Page (whose forthcoming turn in Hard Candy has been hailed as career-making), running/dancing down the road. And throughout, special attention is paid to the blocking of her ensemble cast, which at moments will break into subtle modern dance movement. The approach pays off when typically mundane momentsa handshake, a hug are transformed into aching scenes of human contact. Above all, Murrays direction indicates nimble control over all aspects of the films productionMurrays intention is ever-present and her style becomes a prime element of the films meaning. Mouth to Mouth serves as the discovery of an auteur.