Shortbus is an American movie penned and directed by John Cameron Mitchell. In this 2006 release, the film revolves around the lives of seven remarkably different people, including a sex therapist as well as a dominatrix.
It shows how these different people come together as they frantically try to fit in New York City. The characters all meet on a weekly basis at a salon called Shortbus. Shortbus does include some explicit scenes.
However, it cannot be termed as ‘dirty’ or ‘immoral’ since it is conveying a point very well.
Based in modern day New York City, the story centers around Sofia Lin (Sook-Yin Lee) whose husband is Rob (Raphael Barker), who is exceedingly good-looking yet wholly void of ambition and just a tad bit dumb-witted.
Sofia is a sex therapist and comes across a couple; a former child star Jamie (PJ DeBoy) and his partner, a once-prostitute James (Paul Dawson). At their first sitting, Sofia loses it and hits Jamie, but then apologizes later on.
She advises them to go to an artistic and sexual salon named Shortbus. Sofia slowly starts experiencing new things; like being friends with a dominatrix, Severin (Lindsay Beamish). Rob gets concerned about the fact that Sofia cannot achieve orgasm and starts visiting Shortbus with her.
On the other side, Jamie and James encounter an aspiring singer, Seth (Jay Brannan) and the three begin a sexual relationship. While this is going on, James and Jamie’s neighbor, Caleb (Peter Stickles), is stalking them avidly and living through them.
However, he fears that Seth will cause a break up between James and Jamie and thus goes to Shortbus to confront Seth.
Sofia and Severin start meeting in the spa. They have intense conversations, and Severin helps Sofia loosen up sexually, whereas She makes Severin see a more human side of sex. After an unplanned sexual experience, Sofia has been yet again, unable to achieve an orgasm.
Throughout the movie, James continuously films his relationship and himself, which later turns out to be a suicide note. He attempts to kill himself, but Caleb saves him. The latter takes him to the hospital and writes his number on James’ face.
After waking up, James calls Caleb and goes to his house as opposed to Jamie’s or Seth’s, who are both confused.
Following this, the characters’ personal feelings artistically shown about their sexual ventures. Caleb and James have sex, and they go further than James ever has before. Jamie sees James in Caleb’s window and comes to know that he is alive.
Rob, Sofia’s husband, pays to meet Severin, the dominatrix and requests something he couldn’t ask of Sofia. As these proceeds, Severins loses her cool and Rob calms her down. Sofia has a dream where she, yet again, even in the dream world, fails to be satisfied.
She screams in frustration and the actual world; all the lights go off simultaneously.
The film ends with a scene at Shortbus. Sofia arrives there to see Rob with Severin. She doesn’t pay heed and sits down alone. Jamie and James also make an entry and following them, Seth and Caleb come too. Justin Bond performs a song that starts out slow but slowly becomes more lively and upbeat.
James and Jamie start dancing and kiss on the dance floor whereas Seth and Caleb start warming up to each other too. Rob makes a friend and Severin exceedingly happy with the arrival of the band. Sofia engages in a threesome with a couple, finally achieves her orgasm and the lights in the city come back on.
Sofia is one of the central characters of the film. Of Chinese-Canadian origin is a woman with a light tone and a style with whom it is not difficult to get attached despite his obsessive nature.
Sofia is a “sex therapist” who prefers to be called a “marriage counselor” and has never had an orgasm. In her session with the Charities, they will take her to the “Shortbus,” a place that will become for her a labyrinth of new sensations and spaces of possibility.
In “Shortbus” sadomasochism, masturbation, fetishism, voyeurism and group sex, maligned forms of sexual practice and the erotic majority, are the norm and not the exception and are articulated as forms of pleasure and film displeasure, not fearing to make a loving parody of contemporary art.
Not only because of the orgies that take place in the club but because these so-called “anomalies” are part of everyday life and the fantasies more or less covert of the protagonists.
Service is a young lesbian and dominatrix, prostitute and amateur photographer. The character embodied by someone who dedicates to photography and urban art. It is another of the tender and sad aspects of the film.
If Sofia has not had an orgasm, James has not allowed being penetrated and has not assumed his sexuality fully, Severine has not had a relationship with anyone, is lonely and is ashamed of his real name because it is like a famous star. Severine tries to help Sofia and both help each other but can not do it entirely.
In one of the most beautiful moments of the film he shares, during a famous game of the “Shortbus,” the wardrobe with James and they maintain two parallel monologues about their solitudes.
The digital cameras, the photos, the mobiles, the search engines, the screens of the laptops are very present in a contemporary film about the fragmentation of the social and individual self and the search for sexual realization.
Sex can be a space of freedom, like those beautifully photographed idyllic orgies that we see as a backdrop of the “Shortbus” but also of limitations, regulation and constriction as some of the characters show us.
Sofia, James, Severine, Justin are some of the passengers on this bus for the weirds in which Mitchell reflects and reflects us, without shame.