Zaynab, a thirty-something Pakistani, Muslim, lesbian in Chicago takes care of her sweet and TV-obsessed mother. As Zaynab falls for Alma, a bold and very bright Mexican woman, she searches for her identity in life, love and wrestling.
Summertime. A cruising spot for men, tucked away on the shores of a lake. Franck falls in love with Michel, an attractive, potent and lethally dangerous man. Franck knows this but wants to live out his passion anyway.
A failed London musician meets once a week with a woman for a series of intense sexual encounters to get away from the realities of life. But when he begins inquiring about her, it puts their relationship at risk.
The established relationship between university student Bruno and aspiring photographer Carla is thrown into turmoil when Bruno feels drawn to sexy karate instructor/break dancer Rai. Complications ensue.
Numerous New York City dwellers come to the exclusive club Shortbus to work out problems in their sexual relationships. Rob and Sophia are a happily married couple, except for the fact that she has never experienced sexual climax. This irony follows her to work because she is a couples counselor who frequently has to deal with the sexual issues other couples have. Two of her patients are Jamie and James, a gay couple who have been monogamous for five years and counting. James wants to bring other men in to the relationship, and his own history with depression may hint at an ulterior motive. Ceth (pronounced Seth) may be the perfect addition to their family, but Caleb, a voyeur from across the street, may have his own ideas about that. Sophia visits Severin, a dominatrix with secrets of her own to reveal.Written by
Director John Cameron Mitchell dares to take a retro-clinging America into the twenty-first century with this brave, humanistic art-house film wherein an ensemble cast of little known actors and numerous non-actors portray characters exploring emotions and relationships in a New York City underground club called the Shortbus.
As a gay couple with relationship problems, James (Paul Dawson) and Jamie (P.J. DeBoy), consult a young sex therapist named Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee) who, as it turns out, is in need of some therapy herself. The film's weak plot steers them to the Shortbus, wherein sex and open relationships trump everything else in life, as if people obsess about sex every minute of every day. The film's sex scenes are explicit and graphic, but never exploitative.
Most of the characters are to varying degrees pleasantly unique. I especially liked Justin Bond, the club's tour guide. The film's costumes and production design are terrific. Artwork is mod, as you would expect. And the film's music captures a progressive feel, and varies from nouveau jazz to the stirring humanistic anthem "In The End", performed by the entire cast, and led with flair by Justin Bond.
Unorthodox both in substance and style, in a society that too often demands traditional correctness, "Shortbus" is Mitchell's cinematic plea for cultural compassion and mercy, tolerance and acceptance. It is a cinematic theme that is much needed in America, where hatred and intolerance toward all things nonconforming seriously risk diversity of thought and behavior. At the very least, the film is a welcome change from your mainstream Hollywood assembly-line cinematic trash. I suspect, however, that "Shortbus" really is the wave of the future, particularly in forward-looking societies. More power to it.
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