Our Rating: ★★★★☆
L Factor: Minor lesbian content
Short Take: Uncensored film about love and sex amongst patrons of a New York City sex club.
Alternate Titles:
Year: 2006
Duration: 101 min
Language: USA/English
MPAA: Not Rated
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Writer: John Cameron Mitchell
Starring: Sook-Yin Lee, Paul Dawson, Lindsay Beamish, PJ DeBoy, Raphael Barker, Peter Stickles, Jay Brannan, Alan Mandell, Adam Hardman, Ray Rivas, Bitch, Shanti Carson, Justin Hagan, Jan Hilmer, Stephen Kent Jusick

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ShortbusWriter/director John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) set out to make an uncensored film about love and sex, and he’s produced a very controversial, yet critically acclaimed, feature that runs the polysexual gamut. Notably, the actors have real explicit sex in front of the camera.

James (Paul Dawson, ‘Strangers with Candy’) and his partner Jamie (PJ DeBoy, ‘Queer as Folk’) are considering bringing another man into their relationship. Severin (Lindsay Beamish) makes her living as a dominatrix, but can’t seem to find love. Happily married Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee) is a sex therapist, but she’s never had an orgasm, although we see her and her husband trying a wide variety of sexual positions.

All of them find their way to a New York sex club called Shortbus, where men and women in all combinations hook up for live sex and orgies. (The term ‘shortbus’ usually refers to the small school buses for special education students.) There they meet others with a passion for sex, as they work out their fears and insecurities. Sofia receives advice on orgasms from a room full of lesbians, including Bitch (Bitch and Animal) and Little Prince (Bitch’s real life girlfriend Daniela Sea, ‘The L Word,’ Itty Bitty Titty Committee). Later Sofia and Severin make out, and Sofia ends up having her ultimate sexual experience with a woman and a man together.

The tagline of the film is ‘Voyeurism is Participation,’ and watching it is definitely a voyeuristic experience. Yet for all its extremes, Shortbus is one of the most human films I have seen in a long while. Its explicitness can be quite a shocker though! (AB)