A review of “Shortbus” by Jeanne Aufmuth

Stars: **

Rating: Unrated but should be NC-17 for graphic sexual images and frontal nudity

Run Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

 

 

          John Cameron Mitchell (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”) makes a bold declaration on the state of adult sexuality with unappealing consequences.

          A colorful assortment of emotionally challenged players – straight and gay, male and female – have reached a critical juncture in their personal relationships and yearn for a deeper connection between love and sex.

Sex therapist Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee) preaches carnal bliss yet continually fakes orgasms with husband Rob (Raphael Baker) who is none the wiser. James and Jamie (Paul Dawson and PJ DeBoy) have been cohabitating for years but James can’t commit and the pair end up on Sofia’s couch.

It’s not long before Sofia owns up to her own issues and the Js invite her to join them at New York’s Shortbus, a weekly Brooklyn salon that fosters a loving, open community of music, politics and public sex. And how.

Along for the orgiastic ride are troubled dominatrix Severin (Lindsay Beamish) who offers to guide Sofia through her predicament and the blithely cheerful Ceth (Jay Brannan) who falls for both James and Jamie while pursuing a three’s-a-crowd alliance.

“Shortbus” has been called the most sexually graphic American narrative feature ever made outside the realm of the porn industry and I believe it. Mitchell gives his hardcore content a playful twist; kudos to the man for shunning the corny muzak and gauzy backlighting that’s the staple of glossy screen sex. Problem is there’s nothing remotely sexy about it.

Threesomes, fellatio, orgies; all manners of sexual behavior are well represented at the kinky Shortbus, ultimately detracting from Mitchell’s poignant message about the slim and subtle connections between physical and emotional love.