I Am a Sex Addict
Guys prattle on forever about the women they supposedly laid, but stay mum revealing anything that smacks of the perverse. Do any of my male friends watch porno into the deep night, get jerked off at massage parlors, bring escorts into their condos for kinky S&M encounters? I don't know, no pal informs me, nor do they know anything sexually creepy about me. So give him credit: filmmaker Caveh Zahedi is a more courageous fellow than I or my lip-sealed buddies, making the self-confessional comedy, I Am a Sex Addict, showing May 5-11 at the Brattle. Zahedi holds nothing back, in detailing, and often gently mocking, his years and years of obsessively frequenting prostitutes.
Zahedi is a little fellow with big, expressive eyes and a talent, even in the most compromised sexual situations, for comic mugging. The facile temptation is to compare him to Woody Allen, especially with his blind idiocy in relationships, his mind-boggling blunders in love. Allen makes an occasional smutty joke, then stops discreetly. Have we ever witnessed his woody? In contrast, Zahedi catapults over the line of good taste. Sometimes, the small, squalid runt is plunging away, but more often, he's being orally served by a hooker. If you see I Am a Sex Addict, get used to it: the sordid sight, the unpleasant sound, of Zahedi howling and baying with joy because his cock is in a harlot's mouth. His most-repeated line of dialogue: "Will you suck me?"
When not enmeshed with ladies of the night, Zahedi negotiates, badly, through a trio of girlfriends. I Am a Sex Addict is a flashback movie. As he's about to be married for the third time, Zahedi, in a tuxedo, pauses in a hall of a church to tell a camera woeful tales of love past. These are acted out, low-budget, indie style (San Francisco standing in for Paris, etc,), with the wrinkled, late-fortyish filmmaker playing himself at earlier, studlier times. Tale one: in the late 1970s, he leaving his American girlfriend to live with, and marry, a French one, Caroline (Rebecca Lord). Tale two, in the 1980s, he meeting a nice-girl, Christa (Emily Morse) at UCLA film school. Tale three, in the early 1990s, he hooking up in Austin, Texas, with Dern (Amanda Henderson), a mushroom-eating, sexual free-spirit.
All three relationships are marred by Zahedi's obsessive desire for prostitutes, and by his spill-all credo that he must be truthful to his significant others. Well, frankness hurts. Truth damages. Only Dern, woman three, seems to regard his abnormal needs are normal. That's because, as he slowly finds out, she's so fucked-up herself, a self-hating alcoholic. The most harrowing, effective scene in the movie is one in which Zahedi takes Dern with him to a Munich brothel, a night ending in tears, accusations, near-suicide.
Do you want to watch this stuff for its 99 minutes of running time? I made it through a DVD screener, plowing on because of moments of wit and insight alongside Zahedi's stupidities. I'm a guy: guys are dumb. My wife couldn't deal after an hour.
"I find him totally obnoxious," she said, 'and want nothing more to do with him," as she retired to bed to read The New Yorker.
What would be the cherry on the whipcream for the Independent Film Festival of Boston? If a film shown here gets a distributor. That could happen to Chalk, Mike Akel's sweet, charming comedy (Election meets The Office) about high-school teaching, which attracted huge crowds for every showing, generated an awesome buzz, and won the Grand Jury Prize. If this were Sundance, there would be a bidding war based on Chalk's remarkable Hub reception.
(Boston Phoenix June 2006)