Shortbus (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner24/10/2006

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 112 mins

Opens London Film Festival: October 24th

The explicit sexual content may be too extreme for some but this is a thoroughly enjoyable, frequently hilarious romcom that deserves to be seen.

What's it all about?
Director John Cameron Mitchell's (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) screenplay was workshopped, Mike Leigh style, with the actors developing their characters and relationships. The film centres on three different storylines, each of which intersect at Shortbus (named after the short yellow school bus for disabled children), an underground arts and sex salon for the challenged and gifted.

The characters include sex-therapist Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee), who's never had an orgasm with her husband and is tired of faking it; the two Jamies (Paul Dawson and PJ DeBoy), a long-term gay couple who invite a third party (Jay Brannan) into their relationship; and Severin (Lindsay Beamish), an artistic dominatrix looking for an emotional connection.

The Good
Director John Cameron Mitchell's (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) intention with Shortbus was to make a sexually explicit romantic comedy, in direct contrast to the kind of dull, depressing arthouse sex films we usually get such as Intimacy, Romance or 9 Songs. He has succeeded admirably, because Shortbus is both emotionally involving and extremely funny.

The performances are terrific, particularly Sook-Yin Lee, who deserves to be a big star after this. There's also strong support from Justin Bond, who gets several hilarious one-liners as the mistress of Shortbus.

The Great
Mitchell's direction is genuinely inventive throughout, particularly in the use of beautifully animated inserts to stand in for overhead shots of New York. The dialogue is superb too and the film is packed with visual and verbal gags.

The sex scenes are extremely explicit but Mitchell films them with humour and they never feel exploitative or gratuitous, even when they're utterly outrageous (such as a sex scene that involves an obscene rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner).

Worth seeing?
In short, Shortbus is a thoroughly enjoyable, achingly funny and genuinely romantic film. Highly recommended.

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Shortbus (18)
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Content updated: 26/09/2018 05:51

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