Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Written by: John Cameron Mitchell
Actors: Sook-Yin Lee (Sofia), PJ DeBoy (Jamie), Paul Dawson (James), Raphael Barker (Rob), Lindsay Beamish (Severin), Bitch (Herself), Justin Bond (Brothel Madame), Jay Brannan (Ceth), Shanti Carson (Leah), Stephen Kent Jusick (Creamy), Yolonda Ross (Faustus), Daniela Sea (Little Prince), Rachael C. Smith (Zoey), Peter Stickles (Caleb)
Jamie (Paul Dawson) and Jamie (PJ DeBoy), a gay couple, are living together for several years. Afraid of losing their love, they seek therapy and decide to spice up their sexual life opening the relationship. The first session with sexual therapist Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee) instead fails, as the young lady never had an orgasm, despite exotic and extensive efforts with her partner. Hence the two clients recommend the sex club “Shortbus”. There, at a weekly queer soiree hosted by the legendary drag queen Justin Bond, outsiders and insiders of NY meet, talk about close to everything and even more, and, naturally, mainly about sex. Among them an ex-mayor of New York, a lonely domina, the Jamies and Ceth (Jay Bran). After she has overcome initial irritations about the orgies in the club, Sofia befriends the young domina Severin (Lindsay Beamish). In the meantime Jamie, who is in the claws of an ever so deepening depression, works on a video about himself
„Shortbus“ is probably the most liberal movie that has been produced outside the porn business. But the intense sex with, on top and inside each-other has nothing to do with porn. It unravels desires, longings and fears of the many portrayed characters amidst a thrilling music (Yo La Tengo) and a lovely Hundertwasser-like makeup of NY under a flying camera that allows for moments of escape from the thick tangles of relationship. Sex keeps this story going: 2ways, 3ways, homo- and heterosexual, vaginal, anal and oral. But it is not the scope of the movie. The body is the screen where personality projects itself. Hence all of a sudden all the queer folks turn out to be very normal, with weaknesses and strengthes and their desire and capacity for love.
Is this movie provoking? Sure. Is it shocking like “Caligula”? Sure not. It is just logical to show sex in a movie about sex. Even Jackson Pollock splattered with cum over a view on ground zero or „The Star Spangled Banner“ sung with much zeal into one lover’s behinds in a gay threesome follow that very same logic, not sparing the American mainstream soul anything. Sex or no sex, bohème or not, what matters are not the orgies, but the studied characters. The parallel universe of sex established in the guts of the metropolis is depicted without any stiffness or remorse: „It’s just like the sixties except with less hope“, as Justin Bond has it introducing Sofia to the scene. There is even space for humor in a drama that has a wonderful touch of a fairy tale at the same time. And probably only thus it is bearable in a society after 9/11 where everyone seems to seek pleasure instead of happiness.
(For those who care for photos, there were several included but inactivated by the Filmmagazin. Let them enjoy there proprietory rights on them. They don’t seem to need publicity.)