I came across this clip on Youtube a couple weeks ago and it inspired me to put "Shortbus" on my Netflix queue for a re-watch.
This was that "I can't believe they showed it in Hamilton County movie" with all the real sex acts. They aimed for a notoriety and lived up to the reputation. Every sort of polymorphous perversity, god love it, is thrown up there on the screen. They get enough out and up on the screen in the beginning to give you a good shock so you can then settle into it.
Anyhow, the first time I watched "Shortbus" I wound up touched by it -and no, I don't mean in a fondle-y way. There are parts that are glaringly, self-consciously... amateur. The characters are people with some fairly self-absorbed problems, and then you get to see fluids.
But, in the end, the story is about connection to others. For all the awkward parts, there are others that make you catch your breath.
I was going to snark and be all "They're trying to talk about isolation through explicit contact and it's all well-intentioned art" but in the rewatching something hit me.
It starts with the "oh look, nudity and penetration, isn't that smart?" It moves to "oh lord, could they be more actor-y and contrived?" There's also a big scoop of "Gee, I wanna go to that party."
But, by the end, you're rather engaged. You wind up happy one character learns to let love in, both literally and metaphorically, and you're rooting for another to find her damn orgasm already. That said, what I realized is that the more you relate to it, the more you see parts of yourself in it. You have to say you can find it difficult to connect with others, or let them in - metaphorically or otherwise.
You can see that it's a piece that uses the explicitness of the physical connections as the bait-and-switch to get you thinking about the emotional ones. They show you the orgy to say you can be alone, unconnected (unknown), and lost in a city of millions all packed in together like sardines. It's universal, and a "False Epiphany," but you can get suckered in and say "hey, that's me."
That's a hard thing to fess up to. It surprised me to let that one sink in for a little bit. I'm choosing to think that if you click with "Shortbus," maybe it means that, sure, you're a little lonely; and you still have hope.
I think it's message is just really about how hard it is to connect with other people and that's why I so enjoy this final song in the film. It struck me as one of the best uses I have ever seen of a movie using a song to really sum up what the "feeling" of it is -- and "Shortbus" is a film with brilliant music choices. It's one of the few where the moment I saw it I filed away in my mental to-do list "Get Soundtrack. ASAP"
The moment is quiet- everyone is in one way or another spent - and the city finally has the blackout that threatens to break on occasion throughout the whole film. So it's dark, there's no distractions of civilization, and the song so calm it's practically be a funeral dirge... and then they turn it into a Souza march and a happy ending... literally and metaphorically.
If you've never seen the movie, watch it. You may be offended, but you probably won't be sorry... if you relate to it.