2007-08-14 12:55
What it’s about:

Shortbus explores the lives of several diverse New Yorkers with sexual and emotional issues. Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee) is a sex therapist who has never achieved an orgasm. She counsels Jamie (PJ DeBoy) and James (Paul Dawson), a couple who are discussing opening their relationship. But during the session, Sue’s secret is revealed. The couple invite her to Shortbus, a bohemian, artsy, sexually charged club populated by people of all sexual persuasions, which is a starting point for self discovery.

What we thought of it:

Shortbus doesn’t mess around. The title sequence alone contains more explicit sex than any movie you’re likely to have seen in a mainstream movie theatre. Between the credits are shots of Sofia and her husband having wild sex in more positions than most people go through in a lifetime. This is inter-cut with the suicidal James setting up his video camera, then attempting autofellatio, and a dominatrix viciously beating her bound lover. All three scenes end with very real orgasms.

If this leaves you cold, perhaps you should consider another movie for your first date. If you’re still interested, try this scene for size: two men give each other oral sex in the classic ‘69’ position, while a third man stands behind the man on top with his head buried between his legs while the man on the bottom manually stimulates him. And here’s the cherry on top: throughout this extremely explicit scene, all three men are humming “The Star-Spangled Banner” as loud as they can. Not because they’re patriotic, of course. They’re humming for added stimulation.

It’s a scene so jaw-droppingly outrageous you simply have to laugh. It’s surprisingly inoffensive and even more surprisingly, kind of sweet, because at this stage in the movie you know enough about the characters to empathise with them.

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.

bRUCE 2007/05/20 11:11 AM
I loved it I had to see this movie twice because I realized there was more to it than what I saw first time round. Sad, complicated, real. Wow. I just love it. Almost as much as I loved his Hedwig & the Angry Inch.
Kef 2007/05/22 2:50 PM
too explicit i failed to see where the movie was going, storyline too weak and i think the movie was too peverted.
Goda 2007/05/23 6:11 PM
Wow Kef Sounds like you're a blast in the sac. Sack? Ah, who cares. I'm very curious. Usually "erotic" movies have to end in someone dying in order to make it all "arty". They tend to lack laughter. Seems this one may just be an exception I'll welcome.
josh 2007/05/25 10:13 PM
A MUST SEE really really enjoyed this movie.go into it with an open mind and you will have a great time.GO SEE IT!!
dustin 2007/05/30 12:11 AM
great watch what a fantastic movie... so real!!! something which the mainstream movie goers need to see. (yah right, they'll never go)
PHILLIP 2007/06/18 11:47 AM
Perverted ? maybe that is exactly what SHORTBUS tries to achieve ! to show people like KEF that all is fair in love and war ! Perversion is in the guiltridden minds of people hiding from themselves; more movies like this and there will be more acceptance that we are all imperfect individual no tight or wrong sex !
Zinzi 2007/06/29 9:04 PM
Boring Explicit sex leaving nothing to the imagination. What is the storyline? Where is the art?? This movie is supposed to be about exploring sexuality. A one dimensional affair portraying sexuality in a bland and superficial way with some really sad characters. Youngsters may learn a few new sexual positions. A total waste of time and money.
Wendy 2007/07/30 8:13 PM
Mrs I cannot believe that they are going to show this movie in a cinema. It is good but not for kids. 18 still to young. This is porn.
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