This scene typifies Shortbus. Despite its explicitness and outrageousness, the film is character driven, and never loses sight of its inherent humanity. At heart, it’s a warm romantic comedy-drama, a genre which traditionally espouses heterosexual conservatism, vanilla sexism and squeaky-cleanliness of Hanksian (or Ryanesque) proportions. Shortbus is trying to do for its genre what South Park did for cartoons.
Unlike most RomComDrams, which often judge characters and toss them aside for superficial reasons (for example, the person who gets dumped in the end because they’re overweight, ugly or have no fashion sense), Shortbus offers no judgement at all. Just like in real life, people break up and get together for reasons which, for us as outsiders, are not entirely clear. There are no hard and fast decisions to be made, no last minute dashes to the airport to say, “But I love you!” and it certainly doesn’t have a happy-ever-after ending. Shortbus ends as it begins: some people are happy, others are not so happy. There’s no finality. Things just go on, with no real goal in sight. Again, just like in real life.
This lack of judgement, this freedom from Hollywood’s nauseating politically correct moralizing, is what makes Shortbus so different. A lesbian who calls herself ‘Bitch’ is presented in the same matter-of-fact manner as a relatively conservative heterosexual character. It doesn’t preach acceptance – it simply takes acceptance for granted.
It’s not a perfect film, by any means. Character development is weak at times, and the script loses momentum in the second half, resulting in a slightly flat ending. But this is a movie some people need to see. Unfortunately the people who need to see it the most aren’t going to buy a ticket. Maybe you could buy it for them. Take your friends, take your parents, take the kids – you won’t feel the same walking out as you felt walking in.
- Chris McEvoy
It's as explicit as a porn film, but Shortbus is really just a sweet romantic comedy drama trying to find its place in an uptight, judgemental world.
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