“Shortbus” isn’t a total disaster. Let’s set that straight. (For one thing, the making of this film led to the release of Jonathan Caouette’s Tarnation.) John Cameron Mitchell writes some very clever dialogue and the first half of this movie really sings. The first half is a fine enough indie character film that does get good mileage out of its “frank sex” gimmick. These scenes are touching (Sophia watching the brunette have an orgasm) and, at times, very humorous (“Rotate!”) It’s around the midway point – when the In The Realm of the Senses egg is introduced, when things just collapse. There is nothing pushing the story forward, the blank characters haven’t the depth to hold the film on their own (sorry, but the woman playing Sophia is a terrible actress) and bon mots and fucking isn’t enough to keep me interested. (Obviously, I expect more from movies than I do from real life.) By the time we got to Jamie and the Dominatrix in the closet — a very moving and tender scene — it was too little, too late. By the faux-Nashville ending I was dumbfounded. What is the message here? This is hardly a film to promote free love! Everyone engaging in this lifestyle is miserable! Are Sophia and her husband going to get a divorce? They seem happy, but she’s a little frigid. Is that a reason to leave someone? The husband’s a nice guy. I think. And is James no longer suicidal because he let a stranger give it to him up the rear? Is that really the message of the film? I’m sure it isn’t, but it sure seems that way, and if it is, why isn’t the gay version of the ADL calling for John Cameron Mitchell’s head??? I dunno. . .I’m guessing JCM & co were just hoping people would just go gaga over the chutzpah of the production and not think about these things. When I saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch I thought, “great music, a few funny scenes, disappointing story.” “Shortbus” has daring sex scenes instead of great songs.