Why Love Doesn't Work

Amy's Orgasm is about the same sorts of ideas as 100 Girls, only from a female - and more mature - perspective.

Frustration with one's love life is assuredly the motivation behind the plots of many a film. The Amy of the title has similarly parlayed her frustrations into a successful career writing self-help books - or really, one: "Why Love Doesn't Work", which seems to have polarized people along gender lines. Really, though, she's a bit of a fraud, and she knows it - her theories, while reasonably thought out, reflect her experience more than actual wisdom. Her attitude is almost militaristic, reflecting sexual politics as some kind of war that nobody can win. I found her perspective to be highly stereotyped and have a number of concrete counterexamples to things she says from my own life. But that's the thing about stereotypes - there's often a certain amount of truth to them, but they ignore the tremendous variety between individuals. And therein lies the source of conflict for most of the film.

The plot has Amy falling for her apparent opposite - a trash-talking shock jock who doesn't buy into her theories, but is interested anyway. He does not fit the stereotype, and is in fact, quite respectful, merely vocal about what he does and doesn't agree with. The relationship brings up a lot of different things for Amy. The film teeters on the edge of a character study, but never gets there, focusing instead mainly on the battlefield of ideas about relationships and how valid any of them actually are. We move toward a resolution that doesn't quite answer the big questions, but provides answers for Amy's life in particular.

The biggest question about a film like this is generally whether the ending is truly earned - that whatever resolution or empathy we are supposed to feel is justified by what led up to it. In this case, it's all about the transition from "unbeliever" to "believer". Despite what I may think about Unbeliever Amy's words, I do feel that they are true for the character - all the iconic best-selling author business almost begs the question too much - it wasn't that necessary, but it did provide a kind of context to it all. As for a transition happening in Amy's perspective, I certainly see that happening in the scope of the film. The ending itself is borderline - things slide into formula when much of what came before was fresh, more real in each moment than the canned ending. I forgive the patness I see at the end, based on the strength of what came before. The film deserves better, but it's not far off the mark.

There are some slight missteps, but they are to be expected where one person serves as writer, director, and star. And they are so minor compared to the sorts of things you usually see. There's nothing much to complain about visually (often a source of inconsistency in projects like this) - the framing and editing keeps the moment and interest in what's happening rolling along. The soundtrack approaches being busy at times, but always to reinforce what's going on in Amy's head.

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