Shortbus

Funny, moving, camp as Christmas and chock full of real sex ‘Shortbus’ is the amazing second feature from ‘Hedwig’ director John Cameron Mitchell. Set in a kind of fairytale New York that is inhibited by some crazy characters, both funny and tragic, who in some way all have a sexual issue of one sort or another. Sofia fantastically played by Sook-yin Lee is a sex therapist who can’t orgasm, in Jamie and Jamie’s relationship they are facing some homo-truths and Severin is a dominatrix artist with a lack of social skills to name just a few. But it is all these colourful people that give the film its edge, improvised over two years with a cast picked from open auditions (some would say very open!), they are all just so real that you cant help but fall in love with them. I have heard some be put off by the ‘graphic sex’ but even though it is there at no point is it titillating, it’s awkward, messy and much more like what we as humans are used to in life, porn this is not. The film is also hilarious with too many brilliant scenes to mention, I was laughing out loud and proud in the cinema and lets just say I will never hear ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ in the same way ever again. Not only is the film laced with uber-camp humour it is also so moving and poignant in places that I had to wipe tears from my eyes and you really find yourself getting behind the characters (so to speak) and hoping that their bizarre sexual journeys are eventually fruitful. Filmed kind of handheld with flights of fancy around a cardboard cityscape, we fly from window to window when meeting the cast in their respective homes. Justin bond is great as the hulking owner of the club from which the film takes its title; it’s a club where anything and everything goes from film flesh-tivals to gigs and mass orgies that would put the Romans to shame. The soundtrack is a vibrant mix of old jazz standards, touching ballads and um-pa band sing alongs and it fits so well with the action and general emotion conveyed in the narrative. There is never a dull moment in the film from the minute it starts to the inevitable chair shuddering climax. Yes its bold, yes its brave and yes its bare but it is also breathtaking, little movies don’t come much bigger than this.

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