This was one of the most fascinating movies I’ve seen in a long time …
I was first drawn in by the description of the film on Netflix, which describes the film as:
Director John Cameron Mitchell delivers an unbridled look at the New York City underground, focusing on a group of hipsters who frequent a downtown club renowned for its lascivious ways. Through graphic polymorphous sexual couplings — and using an ensemble cast composed largely of first-time actors — the film chronicles each character’s erotic journey of self-discovery in a raw and riveting fashion.
Other than the above description, I knew very little about the film other than that it appeared as a suggestion on Netflix due to other films I have seen, and I just stuck it in the queue because it seemed interesting.
Then, last night, IFC showed the final, “Extremes” episode of their Indie Sex series of short documentaries. The documentary discussed how sex has been portrayed in independent film throughout the years, and how in recent times, filmmakers are really pushing the envelope even further by incorporating unsimulated sex into their films. Some call it pornographic, but others call it art … I think it really comes down to how the sex is portrayed.
In any case, one of the films discussed in this episode was, in fact, Shortbus …
The film itself has an interesting amalgam of characters, including a married couples-counselor/sex-therapist (played by Sook-Yin Lee) who has never had an orgasm herself, a gay couple who are wondering if they should open up their relationship, and a dominatrix who has troubles connecting with people on an emotional level.
I didn’t really expect the sex scenes to be quite as graphic as they actually were; but the manner in which they were filmed really did bring it out of the world of pornography, and into the realm of art. This flim wasn’t your typical XXX fuck-fest, but really explored the characters’ development and motivations; the emotions were very real, as were the orgasms, both male and female.
Included on the DVD version which I watched is also a documentary called “Gifted and Challenged: The Making of Shortbus”, which is quite captivating in-and-of itself.