Risqué sexual politics drama about a gang of young New Yorkers. Directed by John Cameron Mitchell of 'Hedwig And The Angry Inch' fame, 'Shortbus' is an even more explicit look at the margins of sexuality. Sofia (Sook Yin Lee) is a sex counselor who has never achieved orgasm. Previously staid and a confirmed heterosexual, she is drawn into the world of orgiastic bisexual sex parties by a gay couple, Jamie and James, (PJ DeBoy and Paul Dawson) whom she is treating. Becoming a regular at the Shortbus parties, Sofia is soon attempting, frustratedly, to achieve the pinnacle she seeks with a dominatrix called Severin (Lindsay Beamish). Jamie and James' sex life becomes complicated with the addition of a third party, Ceth (Jay Brannan). The film's sexual content is apparently real and not stylised in any way and there are graphic portrayals of gay and heterosexual sex throughout.
In his aim to make an honest film about sex, John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch
) has taken a somewhat documentary approach to Shortbus
, a film describing various New Yorkers' sexual pathos. Framed by shots roving a homemade diorama of the city, Shortbus
is comprised of vignettes featuring actors who helped craft this story of people's disconnect in sexual endeavors. Jamie (PJ DeBoy) and James (Paul Dawson), a gay couple experiencing a lull in their relationship, visit Sophia (Sook-Yin Lee), a sex therapist whose inability to orgasm results in her clients inviting her to a sex club after which the film is titled. Sophia's husband, Rob (Raphael Barker), is also willing to experiment, so the two independently embark on adventures in self-pleasure. Dominatrix Severin (Lindsay Beamish) plays a crucial role in Sophia and Rob's lives, as her search for real humanity overlaps with their desire for passion.
As each character's plot complicates, the viewer sees a similar melancholy bulldozing its way into these seemingly disparate lives. The depression is repeatedly used in comedic scenes, such as when James is asked on a date while still hospitalised for his attempted suicide. Yo La Tengo's score, which includes Animal Collective among others, lends this film a graceful ambience. Unlike porn, Shortbus has a resonance that encourages the viewer to consider one's own sex life as an important aspect of happiness. --Trinie Dalton