In his aim to make an honest film about sex, John Cameron Mitchell ("Hedwig and the Angry Inch") has taken a somewhat documentary approach to "Shortbus", a film describing various New Yorkers' sexual pathos. Framed by shots roving a homemade diorama of the city, "Shortbus" is comprised of vignettes featuring actors who helped craft this story of people's disconnect in sexual endeavors. Jamie (PJ DeBoy) and James (Paul Dawson), a gay couple experiencing a lull in their relationship, visit Sophia (Sook-Yin Lee), a sex therapist whose inability to orgasm results in her clients inviting her to a sex club after which the film is titled. Sophia's husband, Rob (Raphael Barker), is also willing to experiment, so the two independently embark on adventures in self-pleasure. Dominatrix Severin (Lindsay Beamish) plays a crucial role in Sophia and Rob's lives, as her search for real humanity overlaps with their desire for passion.
As each character's plot complicates, the viewer sees a similar melancholy bulldozing its way into these seemingly disparate lives. The depression is repeatedly used in comedic scenes, such as when James is asked on a date while still hospitalised for his attempted suicide. Yo La Tengo's score, which includes Animal Collective among others, lends this film a graceful ambience. Unlike porn, "Shortbus" has a resonance that encourages the viewer to consider one's own sex life as an important aspect of happiness. "--Trinie Dalton"