Handyfilm etc

Film reviews and other thoughts

My Photo
Location: New York, New York, United States

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Shortbus has a great deal of charm, as well as shock value. The latter comes from approximately half an hour of what is commonly called hardcore sex, that is to say, not simulated but actual intimacy photographed in graphic detail. It’s hard to say whether it’s better or worse that these scenes are attached to what is more or less a featherweight romantic comedy. The film goes through the motions of ‘serious drama’ once or twice, especially in scenes involving a suicide attempt. But these are the weakest elements. What Shortbus does best is demonstrate that we all take sex too seriously.

There are autobiographical elements in the improvised screenplay, with the excellent cast drawing on aspects of their own lives and current situations. Most of this plays in a nimbly entertaining, light manner. A gay couple, a straight couple and various friends and acquaintances form a kaleidoscope of different sorts of sexual hang-ups and roadblocks. The female half of the straight couple is a sex therapist, whose clients include the gay couple – and who can’t achieve an orgasm, instead faking them with her partner. All the characters wind up at a fanciful sex club/group therapy share-a-thon/vaudeville performance art space called Shortbus, where what might be termed orgies take place amid much banter and enjoyable foolishness.

This could all have been an embarrassing disaster. Instead it’s a sweet if slight confection, made unique by the sexual frankness. It comes nowhere near the achievement of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, John Cameron Mitchell’s last film, which delightfully and excitingly reinvented the movie musical (albeit in such a singular way that there will never be another film like it). But Mitchell and his cast deserve credit for producing such an enjoyable film from such a risky premise. One has to wonder how widely this very brazen movie will be seen in theaters outside New York, LA and San Francisco. But it’s likely to be a hit on DVD.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home