Look at those Lips

Screenshot 2016-03-14 14.16.54

In Mo Better Blues, Denzel Washington plays Bleek, an amazing trumpet player who is an asshole. His existence and popularity depends on his relationship to women, but also his lips. In class, we talked a little about the ending scene where we see Bleek as a broken man and unable to play his trumpet again. He then turns to Indigo to fix him. During their encounter, she touches his broken lips, the one thing that has helped him to make his living and engage in relationship with women.

This is not the first time Bleek’s lips are touched during the film. Often when Bleek is alone, he checks to make sure is lips are moisturized and ready to perform. He goes through specific motions to make sure he is able to blow into his horn. When Clark bites his lip, he pushes her aside to clean his wound. The audience watches Bleek care for his lips for several minutes, yelling at Clark, these are his lips and money, rather than comfort Clark who makes an honest mistake. Bleek constantly touches his lips, not only to seduce Clark or Indigo, but to also for his pride attractiveness. Each time this occurs, Lee frames the scene of Bleek’s face to show how obsessed he is with himself, forgetting what happens around him. The audience gets inside of Bleek’s head and experiences his selfishness.

Thus, when he turns to Indigo as a broken man with his stitched up lip, loss pride from losing a fight, and embarrassing himself at the Dizzy club, we again zoom back into Bleek’s lips. The audience sees the permanent scar, the scar Bleek wants Indigo to repair. The scar becomes a stigma the represents Bleek’s failure as a performer and inability to think beyond himself.

Screenshot 2016-03-14 14.18.38


Author: jayjay

photographer, dancer, aspiring lawyer

2 thoughts on “Look at those Lips”

  1. Great introductory sentence. I found the scene in which Clarke bites Bleek’s lip as an act of sexual intimacy and, as a result, gets shoved to the side and then harshly reprimanded extremely jarring. Clarke seems like a powerful female figure in some moments, but in this scene Bleek is able to dismiss and suppress her power without a second thought. I cheered when she ignored Bleek’s sad voicemail at the end of the film.


    1. It’s also interesting that Spike Lee makes Bleek so preoccupied with his lips specifically. This preoccupation makes sense when we take into account his career as a trumpet player, but taken out of context a preoccupation with lips would seem stereotypically feminine. Not that Lee ever invites the audience to question Bleek’s sexuality. Instead, Lee shows again and again (and again and again) Bleek’s sexual prowess with and appetite for beautiful women.


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