Saturday, December 02, 2006

Hitch a ride on the Shortbus

I was gonna attend the demo at Brize Norton today but I pulled something vital in my knee after overdoing it on the cross-trainer in the gym (ha! serves me right for trying to get fit!). So to cheer-up I took myself including knackered knee and hobbled to the cinema (with painkillers)to see the film Shortbus and thankfully there was a lot of leg room to stretch my aching joints!

Shortbus set in New York is a very funny, poignant, depressing and realistic film with unsimulated sex thrown into the mix. It is directed by John Cameron Mitchell who also acted in and directed the excellent Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

As one of the characters says early in the film, "voyeurism is particpation" and as a viewer of the film that's precisely what you are doing. Voyeurism is what partly shapes the film.

The film revolves around a couples' counsellor who has never experienced an orgasm, a fed-up and unhappy dominatrix looking for a way out and a gay couple who are contemplating having an open relationship. All of the characters collide at a place called Shortbus where people come together to have sex presided over by mistress of ceremonies, Justin Bond. Shortbus offers intimacy, confidence, friendship, liberation and closeness from isolation and alienation. Sexuality kinda goes out of the window and so do inhibitions. Other minor character weave themselves into the lives of the main characters.

I liked the film because of its realism. The script and the characters development were improvished. The sex isn't your average polite choreographed Hollywood film with fantastic lighting and moaning and groaning on cue. No, it's sweaty, honest and sometimes spontaneous sex.

Shortbus is place where people don't just indulge in sex but talk about how they feel and friendships are formed. The two characters I sorta related to were James and Severin, both deeply unhappy lonely people (one being suicidal) who live a lie and find it hard to tell people they are close to how they truly feel. Both express themselves through film and photography. There is some kind of resolution for all the characters but even then that's left open. No happy Hollywood denouement all neatly wrapped up in a pretty bow.

OK, it is not a laugh out loud a minute film though it does have some fantastic one liners such as Sophia (couples' counsellor) sitting with Justin watching people screwing. He turns to her and says, "It's like the 1960s but with less hope". If you are looking for pure escapism then there's a dreadful romcom film coming up called The Holiday (urgh!!). Well hey, if you like that kinda thing.

I really recommend Shortbus. It is not about sex it is how people relate to sex. People feeling like square pegs in round holes and not knowing precisely how to communicate, understand and relate to each other. Well, I know how that feels.

Oh and I will never listen to the Star Spangled Banner in the same way ever again....