A group of New Yorkers get caught up in their romantic-sexual milieu converge at an underground salon infamous for its blend of art, music, politics, and carnality.
Release Year: 2006
Rating: 6.5/10 (17,722 voted)
Critic's Score: 64/100
John Cameron Mitchell
Stars: Sook-Yin Lee, Peter Stickles, PJ DeBoy
Storyline 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 like 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.
Cast: Sook-Yin Lee
Caleb, the Stalker
Tobias, the Mayor
Jesse, the John
Shortbus House Band
Leah, the Beautiful Couple
Nick, the Beautiful Couple
Stephen Kent Jusick
Opening Weekend: $107,907
(8 October 2006)
(15 April 2007)
Did You Know?
The character Severin is named after the tragic hero of Sacher-Masoch's novel "Venus in Furs".
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers):
When viewing his profile Ceth reads Magnum's "measurements". An important one is listed as 15cm, which receives a gasp from Sofia. In reality 15cm is a bit under 6 inches, which is about average.
Jesse, the John:
Are you a top or a bottom? Severin:
I beg your pardon? Jesse, the John:
I mean in real life. Severin:
This is real life. Jesse, the John:
Let me put it this way: do you think we should get out of Iraq?
On-screen sexual thrills take a backseat to Shortbus' emotional core
Set in modern-day New York City, a heterogeneous group of straights,
gays and transgenders find common ground at Shortbus, an underground
salon where people are free to explore their most carnal sexual desires
with random hookups and nightlong orgies sometimes even finding bits
of wisdom along the way.
The superb cast of characters of John Cameron Mitchell's "Shortbus"
powerfully draws the viewer in to each of the characters' lives and
problems. Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee), a sex therapist who's never had an
orgasm, seeks out ways to overcome her "pre-orgasmic" dilemma,
profoundly affecting her marriage. James (Paul Dawson), a former male
escort battling depression, goes to ultimate extremes when he can't
even seem to feel happiness with his loving and devoted partner of five
years, Jamie (PJ DeBoy). Struggling artist Severin (Lindsay Beamish),
who succumbed to work as a dominatrix, seeks to have a meaningful
relationship with someone anyone.
Yes, the on-screen sex is real. And there's lots of it. But rather than
displaying sexually explicit scenes for the sake of cheap titillation,
"Shortbus" is provocative with an actual purpose. We're not in
While sex is a main focal point in the film, it is not the sole one.
"Shortbus" deals with all manners of human relations. Not stressing one
form over another, it shows how sex, friendship and love continually
intermingle. Because one's comfort level with their sexuality mirrors
how one relates in all other relationships, showing the raw and carnal
aspect of each character so explicitly works beautifully to accurately
convey their motivations and struggles.
In a touching conversation, an old man identifying himself as the
former mayor of New York says to the young and naive Ceth (Jay
Brannan), "People come to New York to get laid ... People also come to
New York to be forgiven." The latter can also be said for those who
elect to see this film. Whether dealing with sexual oppression,
struggling with sexual desires deemed socially deviant, seeking
redemption for having already been there and done that, or feeling
generally unaccepted for being who you are, the redemption value in
this film is tenderly perceptible. "Shortbus" lets us know that gay,
straight, bi, transgender, whatever we all just want to feel