Early buzz about John Cameron Mitchell's follow-up to Hedwig and the Angry Inch was that it was going to be loaded with real sex -- not the blue-lit, horizontally docking faces of mainstream movies but not the characterless coupling of porn, either. After years of buzz, actually seeing Shortbus leaves you wanting to invent new adjectives -- Fucktastic! Cocktacular! Breastalicious! -- but it also leaves you more than a little impressed by how funny and loose and, yes, emotionally engaging the film is. All the sex makes Shortbus kinda hot, but what's surprising is how Mitchell's sensibility and comedic charm makes it warm, too.
James (Paul Dawson) and Jamie (PJ De Boy) are a gay couple dealing with the monotony of monogamy -- and, as we learn, the fact that one half of the couple is a bit more hopelessly devoted than the other. Couples Counselor Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee) is trying to help Jamie and James -- although when she reveals she's never had an orgasm with her husband Rob (Raphael Barker), the phrase "physician, heal thyself" flits through your mind. Jamie and James invite Sofia to a sex/performance space called Shortbus, where Sofia meets and befriends the Dominatrix Severin (Lindsay Beamish). Of course, these are contextual introductions: The film opens with James masturbating furiously before Jamie gets home, Rob and Sofia running through a gallery of positions like they're proofing the Kama Sutra with an imminent deadline and Severin beating the hell out of an annoying-yet-appealing client in a hotel suite overlooking Ground Zero.