I’m not quite sure why short films haven’t flourished in light of pop culture’s fractured attention span. The 7 to 12 minute length seems right in the wheelhouse of our hyperactive and attention deficient society. Short filmmakers pack all the entertainment and thematic lessons of a feature into a tenth of the length. I’m only a little bit disheartened short films haven’t caught on but I will spare you further complaint. One of the best short films I’ve seen is called We’re Having Sex, written and directed by Michael Callahan. You can find it, amongst a goldmine of other great short films at shortoftheweek.com. We’re Having Sex is about a couple whose sex life has fizzled out. Instead of depicting the typical sex hungry disgruntled man trying to convince his woman to have sex with him, We’re Having Sex turns the stereotype on its head and shows the woman as the aggressor. I’m sure there are many couples where the sex drive of the woman is higher than the sex drive of the man but in my limited life’s experience, I have found the opposite to more often be the case. Its frustrating for the audience to watch Kate (Hannah Pearl Utt) want sex so desperately. Somehow its not as frustrating to watch a man want sex as desperately. Kate is blunt and aggressive. David (Brandon Bales) is passive aggressive and subversive. The characters’ personalities and dialogues could have just as believably been reversed. Callahan switches stereotypical gender roles to bring to light an often unnoticed absurd element to the classic argument. By flipping them on their heads, We’re Having Sex, the film comments on sex roles and expectations. Its a little shocking to see David’s total disinterest and aversion to sex with Kate because we’ve been conditioned to view men as always ready and willing for sex. One of the film’s many messages is the need for patient and understanding verbal communication to have a healthy relationship. The larger and more upfront message here is the importance of sex, not for its hedonistic emotionally depraved pleasure but for the passion and love that can only be communicated physically. In David and Kate’s sexless relationship, there is an obvious air of pent up tension, frustration, and contempt. Sex is a powerful communication tool and is often able to relieve the tension through its sheer physicality. What’s better for struggling relationship’s is the intimacy and closeness that allows for couples to open up their deeper feelings because of their lust produced trust. Of course, if left untreated, miscommunication and frustration can not be solved by sex or anything else.
The film is amazing because it is so nuanced. A few of the little aspects I picked up on were the use of warm and cool colors to further the sense’s of David’s chilly and unreceptive attitude towards sex. Another use of symbolism is David’s shaky guitar playing to symbolize impotence.
We’re Having Sex is just one of the many examples of how so much can be condensed into such a short time. We’re Having Sex’s 12 minutes is definitely worth it for the hours of thought.