Monday, October 8, 2012

Simon Ellis' "Public Sex: A Love Story"



This film is about sex. It contains a whole lot of sex; and rarely has no-strings-attached, anonymous sex been portrayed as so...unseemly.

Dan (Luke Treadaway) is an unemployed journalist. He decides to write an investigative article about a new craze called "dogging." Doggers go to parking lots and have sex in their parked cars, inviting onlookers and in some cases, participants. Dan goes into online chat rooms, and begins anonymously communicating with Laura (Kate Heppell). Laura lives with her bitter father (her mother left them), and is hassled at college by Jim (Michael Socha), who fancies himself a pimp. He goes to the same unemployed jobs program as Dan.

Dan lives with his cousin Rob (Richard Riddell), who is obsessed with noncommitted sex, settling with his equally hot-to-trot cougar girlfriend Sarah (Justine Glenton). Dan's uberbitch better half Tanya (Sammy Dobson) is cheating on him with her boss, Winston (Sean Francis). All of these lives, and possible relationships, converge in a giant dogging gathering in the Lake District in England.

The intersecting storylines are easy to keep up with, even if this device has been done before. What is hard to understand is some of the characters' motivations for staying in their present situations. Tanya is just a horrible woman. Rob quickly grates on the nerves. Jim is almost hit by cars a couple of times, and you will wish you were behind the wheel. Unfortunately, our heroic couple (Dan and Laura) also have their bad moments. The screenwriters, Brock Norman Brock and Michael Groom, do not give us enough interaction between the two to think "gosh, I hope they make it, these darn kids!".

Director Simon Ellis does well keeping the plots moving, even interspersing man on the street interviews about what "dogging" is. His young cast all do fine, considering some of the odious people they are portraying. The film is not hardcore pornographic, but easily on the NC-17 level in showing us various sex acts and more F-bombs than a Martin Scorsese picture. Most of this is shot in night-vision (like Paris Hilton's lousy sex tape) by a mysterious camera man whose identity is revealed in the final scenes. Also, the film is veddy British. The accents are porridge-thick, and some of the slang was completely lost on me, and I lived in England for a while and thought I could understand English English.

"Dogging: A Love Story" (I hate the U.S. title- "Public Sex") is a tough film to like. While it does finally take the stand that love and relationships cannot be built on casual sex with unknown people, it dwells on this point until the fast forward button on the remote control started to tempt me. God help us if this form of affection should catch on over here across the pond. (* * *) out of five stars.