Shortbus (2006)


Critic Consensus: The sex may be explicit, but Mitchell integrates it into the characters' lives and serves the whole story up with a generous dose of sweetness and wit.


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Movie Info

The film follows a varied group of seven people, among them a dominatrix and a sex therapist, as they navigate between the paths of sex and love in modern-day New York City.


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Critic Reviews for Shortbus

All Critics (126) | Top Critics (43)

Shortbus is not, above all, 'dirty.' What it is, in fact, is a nice movie, one of the nicest to come down the pike since March of the Penguins.

Mar 4, 2008 | Full Review…
Top Critic

One woman's quest for the perfect orgasm may strike sophisticated viewers as the stuff of sexual farce at best, but Sook-Yin Lee's Sofia brings both emotion and eroticism to the proceedings, and for this Mr. Mitchell should be commended.

Nov 1, 2006
Top Critic

It runs out of energy before the end.

Nov 1, 2006 | Full Review…

Few arthouse directors have put real sex to such narratively constructive and credibly, humorously human use.

Oct 28, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

A film that's thoughtful and exuberant, achingly sad and wildly funny.

Oct 26, 2006 | Rating: 4.5/5

A rather sweet, wistful little movie that just happens to have a lot of explicit sex in it.

Oct 20, 2006 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Shortbus

If this firm didn't have considerable artistic and intellectual merit, it would be porn. But it does have merit and it has a LOT more to say than prurience or lust. In fact, such sentiments would be missing the point entirely. It's a brave and brash film about sexuality and relationships that makes one wonder -- why hasn't a film like this been made before?

Christian C
Christian C

Super Reviewer

Okay, honestly, I feel like the sex scenes were put there just to be titillating. Not effective.

Jennifer Xu
Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer


I nearly turned it off in the first 20 minutes. Shocking, graphic sex. But when the main character (a sex therapist who can't achieve orgasm, played by Sook-Yin Lee) turns up at Shortbus - a sex club named after the little school buses, filled with "the challenged and the gifted," says the host - the content makes sense, and the almost-story begins to take shape as she and the other characters look for that perfect chemistry, however weird that may be. Mainly, I think this is a film about facing your biggest sexual difficulties straight-on, and by the end, it pulled me in, and the content didn't shock me anymore. A tough watch, borderline pornographic in the beginning, but a film with a big heart that I wound up understanding... more or less. There are some story holes. Decent, though.

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

If you go into "Shortbus" with only hearing about the graphic sex, you will be surprised to find that it's actually incredibly funny and enlightening. "Shortbus" is not for everyone, obviously, just the narrative alone could turn viewers off, let alone the nudity and real sexual contact. But, if exploring characters through their sexuality is up your ally, then this will be an extremely satisfying experience. The sex, while explicit, drives the story; there is always a reason for what you are seeing. You need to look into the sex and not at it. The performances are real and funny (the actors, for the most part, all wrote their own roles) and John Cameron Mitchell directs the proceedings with vigor, delight and plenty of energy. While "Shortbus" can get dark, it works well as a comedy, a drama and a great commentary on the sexual state of America in the 00s. "Shortbus" is a unique film to be sure, and an extremely brave one.

Steven Carrier
Steven Carrier

Super Reviewer

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