Sunday, 8 August 2010

Movie Review: Young People F***ing (2007)



Let's get past the controversy-seeking title and refer to this movie by its alternate name of Y.P.F. There is limited nudity and much less sex than the title would imply: this is a romantic, couples-oriented comedy hiding behind a raunchy title.

Y.P.F. is a humorous exploration of modern love and relationship issues through five unrelated stories featuring couples (and one threesome) in their 20s and 30s, before, during and after one sex-driven encounter. The five vignettes, each about 18 minutes long, are inter-cut and broken down into titled chapters: Prelude, Foreplay, Sex, Interlude, Orgasm, and Afterglow. For one night, we share the lives of:

The Best Friends: Matt (Aaron Abrams) and Kristen (Carly Pope) have been friends for a long time; they decide to have one night of meaningless sex.

The Couple: Andrew (Josh Dean) and Abby (Kristin Booth) have been married for a few years; the spark seems to have gone missing from their sex life.

The Exes: Mia (Sonja Bennett) and Eric (Josh Cooke) used to be a couple but broke up. They get back together for a date that extends into sleeping together.

The First Date: Jamie (Diora Baird) and Ken (Callum Blue) work together; he is the office womanizer, looking to complete the set of sleeping with every co-worker.

The Roommates: Gord (Enis Esmer) and Inez (Natalie Lisinska) are a couple: Gord asks his roommate Dave (Peter Oldring) to have sex with Inez while he watches.

The Best Friends, The Couple and The Exes provide the best developed and involving narratives. The Best Friends struggle to switch to lovers' mode, and their stereo seems to conspire against their quest to keep the encounter meaningless. The Couple delve into the uncomfortable territory of discussing sexual intimacy in a long term marriage. And the Exes keep trying to believe, against their instincts, that they are over each other. The First Date and the Roommates are not bad, but they seem to have received less attention and emotional investment.

The common theme is the transformational powers of intimacy. At the end of the night, all five relationships have evolved, and in certain cases the evolutions are radical, unexpected, and not always welcome.

The cast of mostly Canadian actors, working from the brisk script by Abrams and director Martin Gero, do very well to quickly establish their individual characters and then the details of their relationship. The dialogue is sharp and rings true as far as comedies go, and only rarely descends into exchanges that are too witty or emotionally pregnant.

The coarse title thrust this Canadian movie into the middle of a high profile political debate about government funding of the arts; while the controversy undoubtedly increased the profile of Y.P.F., a more nuanced title would likely have captured a larger audience. After all, providing a hint and leaving the rest to the imagination is always more seductive.






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