Men don't get it. Moms don't get it. Sometimes even your roommate or best friend doesn't get it. But if you bray and carp and vent long enough, someone will listen, someone will begin to understand the precious particulars of a young woman's sexuality. Whether they're interested or not.
That's the message of Let's Talk About Sex, a low-budget act of catharsis and an in-your-face manifesto by a new moviemaker named Troy Beyer. Twentysomething and still full of adolescent pique, Beyer's the writer, director, and star of this raw outpouring, which is set in Miami's South Beach and (she figures) in the soul of American womanhood.
By necessity or design -- who knows? -- Beyer has scrambled a couple of genres. A fair portion of the hour-and-a-half running time consists of talking heads -- scores of women in the street, on the beach, lounging at cafes, all of them happily telling the videocam, often in raunchy detail, about their personal sexual likes and dislikes. Sample 1: "You get five minutes of dick; it's ridiculous." Sample 2: "I hate it when my boyfriend lifts up the covers to fart." Samples 3 through 5: Assorted women begin personal demonstrations involving a cucumber, a doorknob, and hot candle wax.
The rest of the movie is a remarkably sentimental fictional narrative about three female roommates grappling with dating and mating in the Nineties. Michelle (Paget Brewster) is the control freak who fears emotion. Lena (Randi Ingerman) is the victim of careless, unfeeling men. Jazz (Beyer) is the heartbroken advice columnist who also happens to be interviewing women about their sexuality in hopes of landing her own TV show. Thus, the video-within-a-movie.
Beyer may not know it, but Let's Talk About Sex actually says less about sex in the Nineties than about the manners of an age in which the talk show has become America's social sacrament, when the unexpressed thought is unthinkable, when the public confession -- preferably before an audience of several million strangers -- has replaced psychotherapy as an instrument of self-healing.
The movie makes no discernible comment on these extraordinary phenomena; it simply endorses them. "Girls talk their asses off!" Jazz enthuses. Yes, and almost no one within our borders, man or woman, knows when the hell to shut up.
Certainly not this eager filmmaker. She recycles some old truths (you don't need a man to validate your life, good clothes build confidence), works up some romantic melodrama ("When does the pain go away?" Michelle moans), and, whenever in doubt, rolls tape on those women-at-large interviews, some of them illustrated with acres of T&A.
"I just like good, rough sex," one interviewee informs the camera. Why not. It's better than bad, rough moviemaking every time.