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Film / Shortbus

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Shortbus is a 2006 film made by John Cameron Mitchell, the guy behind Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It is known primarily for its scenes of unsimulated sex.

Set in New York City, the movie follows two occasionally intersecting narratives. The first revolves around Sofia, a sex therapist who has never achieved orgasm in her life, and the strain it puts on her marriage. After attending the Studio 54-esque club Shortbus, Sofia befriends professional dominatrix Severin, who tries to help her finally find orgasm.

The second revolves around James, an amateur filmmaker and former hustler who is morose and introverted. He and his boyfriend, Jamie, begin an open relationship with a third man, while a fourth, named Caleb, stalks James from his apartment one block over. The film James has been working on turns out to have an unpleasant surprise.

While Shortbus has largely been overshadowed by Hedwig, it remains a quirky and off-beat flick with its own merits. If nothing else, it has lots and lots of sex in it.

This work contains the following examples:

  • Anorgasmia: Sofia is a sex therapist who has never achieved orgasm in her life.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Not actually discussed, but there can't be a single penis seen in the film less than seven inches long (6 1/2 minimum).
  • Empty Room Psych: It turns out that the pool that James mentioned in the beginning became the place where he attempted suicide.
  • Everyone Has Lots of Sex: All of the main characters have lots of sex. Extras get into the action too, with the orgy scene.
  • Fanservice Extra: In the orgy scene, an entire roomful of unnamed characters are shown having sex (much of it unsimulated).
  • Former Child Star: Jamie is one, and he held it quite hard. By the way, the show that he filmed is about a white boy who was adopted by a black family (that do not tell him the truth right from the beginning, leaving him to think that he is an albino).
  • Interrupted Suicide: James is stopped just as he tries to kill himself.
  • Naked on Arrival: The opening scene is different sex scenes intercut with each other, including James attempting autofellatio.
  • One-Steve Limit: James' original name is Jaime, so he changed his name so that people can differentiate him and his boyfriend.
  • Pair the Spares: James and Jamie's stalker Caleb seems to hit it off with Ceth at the end after James and Jamie get back together.
  • Porn with Plot: While the actors and actresses are having real, penetrating sex on camera, the film actually has a bigger point to make, with various subplots and notable characters, using sex acts as Stock Visual Metaphors.
  • Rescue Romance: James gets involved with the man that saved his life by preventing him from killing himself.
  • Shout-Out: A vibrating egg has the phrase In the Realm of the Senses written on it. And yes, it is inserted into a main characters' vagina.
  • Sex Montage: Sofia is shown having sex with her husband in a variety of places and positions around the house.
  • Stalking is Love: James's stalker appears to genuinely care for him, to the point of saving his life, and they get involved after that.
  • Three-Way Sex: Jamie and James had one with Ceth. This was actually a plan of James's for getting them together before he attempted suicide, so that Jaime wouldn't be lonely afterward.
  • Turn of the Millennium: It references many current events and trends of the early 00s, including The War on Terror, September 11th, and the New York City blackout.
  • Transvestite: Justin Bond, he is depicted as homosexual here. That doesn't stop him from briefly making out with Sofia.