What ties us to our humanity? A review of Guy Woods’ Mouth

Mouth, screening in (and eventually winning) the Young Scottish Filmmaker Prize competition was my personal highlight of Glasgow Short Film Festival. While I enjoyed all the entries in the competition, Guy Woods’ film really stood out to me. The plot follows a recently deceased man named Robert (Rob Turner) who is met by a casual grim reaper called Sharon (Joanne Thomson) in his kitchen. She explains to him that he has one wish he is allowed to carry out whilst he is a spectre; the short follows from there to how the last thing he wants to do in the mortal plane is cry. 

Joanne Thomson in Mouth

The film asks various interesting questions through its short run time however, the most fascinating to me is – what ties us to our humanity and by proxy our mortality? Woods initially presents this through the ambivalence that the protagonist has towards the prospect of his own death, as he says that no one will be too sad about his death and that it wouldn’t affect anything important, whilst saying all this in a nonchalant manner. Yet, in the end he is finally able to cry when his relationship progresses with Sharon, demonstrating that what ties him to life is the relationships he’s made and the impossibility of him making any more. This answers the question presented to us by the film; that it is the meaningful relationships that we build with others that make us human. That is why mortality is meaningful – we can be put on earth for a brief time and with the knowledge of our demise but the relationships and bonds we’ve made will live on creating legacy even without having children. 

The performances were beautifully subtle. Turner, while composed, played the role as if there was something brewing behind the surface that would be revealed in the end. Thomson played the not-so-grim reaper hilariously, with dry wit and playing off the absurdity of the situation, while also increasing the serious tone of the dire premise.

I really enjoyed the use of set, as the house feels never-ending, which creates the feel of the wide expanse of purgatory. The rooms are almost never used twice which not only creates a roomy atmosphere but also a feel for the emotions each room is trying to enhance. This is also created by the cinematography which at the start feels cold and static to mirror the shock Robert is feeling, but gets more dynamic and lively as he builds the relationship with Sharon. The same can be said for the lighting, with a heavy use of natural light at the start but with a more colourful focus by the end; for example, the use of colour during the montage of the two-spending time together, where in one snippet they create a light show and watch it together. Not only a great character moment but a stellar choice of lighting as it is captivating but also serves a narrative purpose. 

Overall Mouth is an enjoyable and amusing short but a story that is teeming with subtly through the amazing writing and directing from Woods, I look forward  to future projects by him. 

Findlay Fraser