While first explaining A Complete History of My Sexual Failures to a fellow colleague, I said it was sort of like High Fidelity ... if, when they adapted the novel, they kept it in the UK (where the book was originally set) and, instead of John Cusack, threw a Kurt Cobain look-a-like in the lead role. Then again, the only common ground shared between the two is that both feature characters who are seeking out their old ex-girlfriends in an attempt to figure out why they're still alone, miserable and unable to sustain a normal relationship without being dumped. Oh, and this one is real, not fiction.
Directed by and starring Chris Waitt, Sexual Failures follows one man's journey to fix his love life. Early on, Waitt tells (and shows) us how, in fact, he's been dumped by every single girlfriend he's ever had. And there's a lot of them; at least 15 or 20. Some have dumped him over email, some over the answering machine, some in person and one even wrote a book, dedicated it to him, and created a "boyfriend" character who gets brutally murdered. Suffice it to say, the man doesn't have a good track record. But why?
Well, for starters, he doesn't have a job. His flat is a complete mess, with crap all over the floor and rotten food stuffed in the fridge. His appearance is that of a disheveled bum; huge holes line his blue jeans and his shirts are all one size too small. Waitt has a difficult time convincing his old flames to go on record regarding their relationship; most of them flat out deny him and, for awhile, it seems the only girl who's willing to talk to him is one who dated him, briefly, when they were 11. Eventually, the girls start to come around -- thanks, in part, to Waitt's mother who's still close to a lot of their families.
At first, it appears Waitt isn't taking the whole thing too seriously. He maintains this sort of deer-caught-in-headlights persona, speaking slowly, flirting, as if he's only out to bag them once again. Thankfully, none of them take the bait, leaving Waitt none the wiser. To add insult to injury, he's also suffering from a severe case of impotence -- he can't get it up -- and during the film one girl actually dumps him because of this. Now Waitt has another problem to deal with, so he visits an S&M mistress, gets whipped in the balls for awhile, and leaves. The scene itself is out of place, and clearly shot more for the audience than rehabilitation, but it's easily the funniest of the film. Unfortunately, the full frontal nudity will create a problem for distributors here in the states, but the unrated DVD will be a must-see.
Waitt finally hits rock-bottom after shoveling a good seven Viagra down his throat, creating a raging you-know-what, which forces him out onto the street searching for someone to have sex with, like, at that exact moment. It's after this that the comedy -- this play it up for laughs -- turns into something a little more poignant. His ex-fiance tells Waitt she's pregnant, and after an emotional scene between the two of them, Waitt seems to turn things around. The reality of what he's doing actually hits him, moves him and changes him. Easily one of my favorite films of the festival, Sexual Failures is edited well, the score is great and while certain scenes feel a bit staged, Waitt is immediately likable and a ball to watch on the big screen. A Complete History of My Sexual Failures is in the process of negotiating a deal for distribution here in the states -- so we'll get it eventually -- and stay tuned for my interview with Waitt later this week.