29 January 2009

DVD: "Sex and Breakfast"

Sex and Breakfast
Written and Directed by Miles Brandman
Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Kuno Becker, Eliza Dushku, Alexis Dzeina
DVD Release Date: 22 January 2008
MPAA Rating: R (For Sexual Content and Language)
List Price: $14.98

The Film
Two couples, who do not know each other, are drawn to a sex therapy seminar.  The speaker of the seminar is a sex therapist (duh) who advocates "group sex therapy" to rehabilitate stale relationships.  As a therapist, she's clearly horrible, choosing to advance her own beliefs even in spite of the reservations expressed by Macaulay Culkin.Both couples are young, but headed in opposite directions.  Heather (Alexis Dziena) is clearly restless; it comes out in a therapy session that she has already pushed James (Culkin) to experimenting with an "open relationship" with which he clearly is uncomfortable.  Meanwhile, Ellis (Kuno Becker) and Renee (Eliza Dushku) are thrillseekers who have elected to explore group sex therapy in lieu of skydiving.  Renee is less interested in being with another man than she is in exploring a same-sex experience, and turns her attention to Betty (Jaime Ray Newman), their regular waitress at a diner where both couples eat breakfast.

The film's title refers to the two experiences shared by the couples: sex and breakfast.  They are unaware of one another at the diner, though they are all established "regulars."  Prior to their rendezvous in an arranged group sex therapy session, it is James and Ellis who briefly meet in the diner's restroom.  They quietly and awkwardly make recommendations to one another about the menu, but James confesses he's something of a one-trick pony.  By the time the even more awkward group sex therapy session is over, it's clear that the breakfast menu was a metaphor for their sexual selves, as well.

If the film has one failing, it is that it is entirely too preachy about the subject of alternative lifestyles.  Dr. Wellbridge (Joanna Miles) does little to comfort her patients who express reluctance to experiment with group sex, instead adding pressure.  By the film's end, only Heather seems to have enjoyed the experience.  There is a "lesson learned" feel to film's finale, as though writer/director Miles Brandman has taken it upon himself to write an Aesop fable about sexual experimentation.

Still, the reality is that, statistically speaking, few people in our society actually engage in such experiments.  Many who do often feel the conflict of negative emotions that sweep James, Ellis and Renee.  It calls to mind a statement once made by Spock on Star Trek: "You may find...that having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting.  It is not logical, but it is often true."

The DVD release is extremely spartan, containing only the film and a handful of trailers.  There are no featurettes, and I don't think there's even a commentary track (though, because it was a one-night rental and we were kind of rushed to watch it and return it in time, I can't swear to it).  Some insight, especially for an artistic/independent film written and directed by the same person, would have been nice.

The Recommendation
Sex and Breakfast is not a film that lends itself to a group viewing--there are simply too many invitations for commentary, especially if your group includes couples.  This was a Redbox rental, and at that price it was well worthwhile.  By now, your best bet for rental will be Netflix, where it will help diversify your queue.

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