Sex With Strangers

Sex With Strangers


Reviewed by: Gator MacReady

Let's get one thing straight, first. The swinger lifestyle simply ain't the Gator's scene. It may cause me to have a slightly skewed view of this film, but I'll be as honest as I can.

Swingers are what you call couples who go to bed with other couples and experiment with partner swapping and group sex. They have nothing to do with the 1996 Doug Liman film starring John Favreau. They have more in common with a typical episode of Jerry Springer.

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Our first couple is James and Theresa. They own a mobile home and drive it to wherever they want, pick people up and seduce them. Other couples hook up over the internet, too, and they interact with some of the other partners the film examines. Both are very open-minded and appear to be some kind of swinger veterans. The chicks seem to dig James, even if he looks like the human incarnation of Satan, with the voice of Dale from King Of The Hill.

The next couple is Shannon and Gerard, who appear to be hillbillies of the highest order. If you mixed together the Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton characters from A Simple Plan, you'd get Gerard. What makes them different from James and Theresa is that they have a child and Shannon makes a point of telling her mother about her unorthodox marriage.

And finally there is a trio of lovers called Calvin, Julie and Sara. They seem to not fully understand the swinging lifestyle and end up doing nothing but yak and complain all the time. Come to think of it, everyone in this film does nothing but bitch and moan about their lust for half the human race. If they are so open minded about sex and regard it as any other activity - it's just like bowling, Calvin says - then why is 90 per cent of the dialogue between them nothing but arguments and doubts over whether or not they want to continue doing it? This question is not answered. Probably because these people do not know what they are doing.

When we were kids, adults always said that sex and sexuality was for grown-ups. Yet, these people carry on in such immature ways and have the hormones of warped teenagers. Calvin, in particular, doesn't have a clue what he's talking and very often makes a complete fool of himself. His actions are totally illogical and his attitude towards other people, including his "girlfriend" Sara, are cruel and unkind. He even marries Julie because a fortune cookie told him too. Now that's a bond that can't be broken. The movie is worth seeing just for the scenes in which this guy flips out at absolutely everyone, because he's not getting what he wants.

Shot on video and looking much like a late-night Channel 4 TV show, Sex With Strangers seems more like a slightly rehearsed soap opera/mockumentary than a cutting edge look into the lives of promiscuous adults. Everyone gets naked, but there is no eroticism here.

The only people who will be turned on are those who instantly check out the "readers' wives" section of Escort magazine. Real women, or common women rather, do not have great bodies and, according to this, most men are overweight, hairy as gorillas and, shall we say, feeble in the longwanger department. How they are turned on by each other is a mystery to me and, surely, people of this age shouldn't be thinking it's cool to sleep around like this. I'm not kidding, husband-and-wife team, James and Theresa, are even in competition with each other in how many people they can bed in a weekend.

Directors Harry Gantz and Joe Gantz have chosen a fascinating subject matter, but the couples exposing themselves aren't all that interesting. It's all a bit superficial. No shocking revelations are made about anyone and no one amazes us with any fancy stories, or extreme points of view.

If this is all the swinger lifestyle is, then who really cares?

Reviewed on: 15 Aug 2002
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Sex With Strangers packshot
Documentary following the lives of couples who sleep around with any willing partner.
Amazon link

Director: Harry Gantz, Joe Gantz

Starring: Calvin, Julie, Shannon, Gerard, James, Theresa, Sara

Year: 2001

Runtime: 105 minutes

Country: US


EIFF 2002

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