Lifelong platonic friends Zack and Miri look to solve their respective cash-flow problems by making an adult film together. As the cameras roll, however, the duo begin to sense that they may have more feelings for each other than they previously thought.
It's the summer of 1994, and the streets of New York are pulsing with hip-hop. Set against this backdrop, a lonely teenager named Luke Shapiro spends his last summer before university selling marijuana throughout New York City, trading it with his unorthodox psychotherapist for treatment, while having a crush on his stepdaughter.
On a Tuesday night, five couples have separate sexual adventures. Matt and Kris, friends for years, want to have an only-once, no-strings good time. Abby and Andrew, married, celebrate his birthday, but it's marred by angst and miscommunication. Mia and Eric are exes, making sure they are over each other. Jaime and Ken work together and this is a first date. Inez and Gord invite his roommate, Dave, to join them. By the time each couple has gone through a prelude, foreplay, sex, an interlude, orgasm, and afterglow, they've answered basic questions: can sex be anonymous, are we bored, is our marriage really finished, does anyone tell the truth, and how do we make someone happy? Written by
Sold out all its screenings at 2007 The Toronto International Film Festival in record time. See more »
Don't be a fag.
I won't. Fuck off.
No pussying out.
I'm not! Will you just...
All right. Come on.
You're not moving.
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Going into a movie called Young People F**king, there is not much one can expect outside of what the title is selling. Yeah, the trailers made the film look funny, and pronounced the critical acclaim for it, but unfortunately, its brash title's suggestion is the only reason people will either run to see the movie, or avoid the film like the plague. And for such a great little film, that is truly a shame.
The film follows four very different couples (and one three-person group) through the course of one night in their sex lives. It picks up right at the beginning introducing the couples (from one that is actually labelled as "The Couple" to another labelled as "The Friends"), and the circumstances that brought them to the inevitable sex, and then progressively goes through the various steps these groups go through from the pre-sex, to the after-sex (cutting back and forth between the groups in-between each of the six intervals).
What is most interesting about this film is how many different ways it covers sex. No one couple in this film is the same, and through the film's clever use of cutting back and forth between them, the audience can genuinely say that they have sat through something truly unique. In North America, sex is always looked down upon as being totally taboo, and a healthy dose of action is what audiences end up getting fed instead. When certain films show up on the radar, like the blazingly unrivalled, albeit, nearly pornographic Shortbus two years ago, they are met with controversy and are almost automatically put down for their depiction of something so inherent to human life that we would cease to exist without it. Young People F**king is not as graphic or raw as Shortbus, but it would be much in the same category in what it is trying to accomplish.
Young People F**king succeeds in being a great film because it stays within reality. Yes, there are certain things said and done that some may not find to be normal, but for the most part, the film plays on sexual stereotypes and sexual themes that everyone knows and can find solace in. The small cast of characters on-screen are real, and are dealing with real issues. There is little to no fantasy being explored here. These are characters that have had their emotions stomped on, who have genuinely real problems that just about anyone in the audience can relate to. The filmmakers know the universality of their subject, and they know that comparisons are going to be made. What they might not have realized in their developing of the stories and characters, was just how affecting it would be.
What also makes the film a success is how funny it is. It never once tries to go over-the-top (minus one particularly vulgar piece of dialogue that the trailer cleverly teases at), and for the most part, stays grounded in the reality of how one would imagine these couples would interact. The film knows its audience, and it stays true to its characters. For every hilarious nugget of dialogue, there is another that is funny only because of how honest and truthful it is, and another that is truly moving. The film does not skimp on trying to make itself out to be something it is not. It wants to be frank, and it does not even try to steer around the topic of sex. And in that respect, the film delivers in spades (and real comedy unlike some of the forced sex comedies we are used to seeing).
Singling out one couple or one character in the film would giving the film its proper due. Every single one of the eleven actors involved in the film make this film what it is. No they are not perfect in their acting styles, but then, neither are these characters. They pour their hearts into making the film believable, real and mature. They all work well off their partner (as none of the groups interact with any of the others), and you can see the honest and sincere emotions in their facial and body expressions (since there are many moments where dialogue is not expressed as much as facial emotion). Yes, some of the situations these characters encounter may seem ridiculous, but the cast rolls with them, and makes them feel just as normal as any other.
If the film suffers from any imperfections at all, it is in that it feels boring at times. Its quick and blazing fast opening suggests that it will not dwell, but in exploring its characters, it unfortunately falls into some fairly exhausting and dull moments that have trouble picking back up. And it is the same problem with every couple featured in the film, in that they just cannot keep up with the pace the film wants to have. I appreciated the deep explorations these characters got, but I think there could have been an easier and faster way to get to some of them. It feels like the filmmakers know how they want to approach these couples, and know how they want to explore their uncertainties and real world emotions, but they just miss the mark in a few instances. It is not a widespread plague that ruins the whole movie; it just halts it from getting from one place to the next in specific instances.
For what the film promises in its title, Young People F**king does an excellent job of making itself out to be a comedy, but out to be a drama all the same. It is funny, sweet, vulgar, and touching all at once. It is an excellent must-see film, if only because of how it treats its subject. It suffers only because of some boring instances, but then, so too does life itself.
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