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Coming on the Shortbus

by Nate Eckstrom

Shortbus has all the sex that the trailer promised. It has sex in different combinations, with various genders, numbers and even all alone. It is said that the average male daydreams about sex every 7 seconds, but I never found my mind wandering from the screen. Fortunately, the new feature from John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) is also funny enough that you can look your fellow movie goers in the eye after the movie’s over.

Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee) stars as a sex therapist who has never experienced an orgasm. As she puts it, “Sex is wonderful, amazing, sort of like someone is about to kill me.” She and a couple of her patients (Paul Dawson and PJ DeBoy) look for solutions at a swingers club called Shortbus. The club, led by head swinger Justin Bond (playing himself), caters to the sexually gifted and at the same time challenged.

The question that the movie pivots on is whether or not sex has anything to do with love. Both terms are, of course, quite slippery, as Bill Clinton has pointed out. Amid the writhing bodies of Shortbus’s orgy rooms, it seems like the movie is pushing the idea that whatever love is, and whatever sex is, they do have some kind of twisted connection. Although which is on the top and which is on the bottom is sometimes unclear.

The plot moves just enough, and the characters are witty enough, that the movie doesn’t become a shocker. In fact, the sex wasn’t really all that shocking, for anyone in this internet age who has probably seen far worse on a lonely Friday night. Jay Brannan makes his debut as a gay model named Ceth who checks his appearance by snapping cell phone pictures of himself. He should certainly get some attention for his humorously jaded performance. He has some heart as well, delivering a tender kiss to a 70-year-old Ed Koch look-alike.

Shortbus is playing at the Sunshine Landmark Theater, 143 East Houston Street, 212.330.8182


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