Orgies and the Meaning of Life
Written & Directed by Brad T. Gottfried
Baxter...Brad T. Gottfried
When I came home from a weekend in Wichita recently, I found three screeners waiting for me. The first one, Methodic, has already been reviewed. The second, No Through Road will be reviewed soon. It's the third one, entitled Orgies and the Meaning of Life, that intrigued me the most. And not just because of the title (although, who among us doesn't enjoy a good old fashion orgy, or the pondering of our pitiful existence?) And although this isn't the type of movie that I typically review here--there's no horror to be found, except for perhaps an existential one--that isn't to say that this isn't the kind of movie that I enjoy. And besides, a deal's a deal: You Send It, I Review It. Simple as that.
Baxter is a nearly-thirty aspiring author with an unhealthy obsession with orgies. He thinks about having them when he's alone, he fantasizes that he is having them when sleeping with a single woman, and, in his spare time, he writes about them in his troublesome first novel: a strange little tale about a stick figure in search of the doorway into a three-dimensional world.
His father is a writer as well, the very successful Christian author of Five Lessons on How to be A Good Person in the Eyes of God. Offended by his son's choice in subject material, he uses his considerable pull to keep it from being published. Of course, with Baxter's lack of any drive other than his sex drive, it's quite possible that it will never be completed anyway.
When he's not screwing, or fantasizing about screwing, or writing about screwing, Baxter mostly thinks about the Universe, his place in it, and the ever elusive One--his True Love that can make him whole--whoever that may be.
Sure, it's artsy, sometimes pretentious, and occasionally self-indulgent, and the story itself is mostly mediocre. And yes, it over reaches and never fully realizes itself. But it's the quirky and offbeat quality of this film that is so fascinating. We're essentially being treated to not only the exterior life of Baxter, but the interior life as well--so we're treated to his daydreams, reenactments of his thoughts, and even scenes of him arguing with a younger version of himself.
The acting is sometimes stiff, and the direction and cinematography are nothing to get excited about. But the soundtrack is quite good, and the dialogue has shining moments of poetry and irony spliced together. More than once I felt as if I was listening to an episode of This American Life.
Between live action scenes, we're given glimpses into Baxter's book, as depicted through cartoon. The script, coupled with this awesomely amateur-on-purpose animation is what makes this one worthwhile. It's true that for a movie where sex is such an important aspect, there's very little skin to see. But if you've ever wanted to see stick figures fuck--and you know you have--then this is the movie for you.
Overall, it's an interesting idea with interesting moments, even if that doesn't necessarily translate into a fully interesting movie. It feels like an unsuccessful attempt at translating a good book into the film medium, which is strange, because this movie isn't based on a book. Which is too bad, because if it was, I have a feeling that I would love the source material, and it would fit right at home on my bookshelf between The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys and Choke.
The Cinema Epoch release of Orgies and the Meaning of Life releases September 29, 2009, and is currently ranked #46,358 in DVD's at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, visit the official homepage, or buy it today!
"God was a lonely kid who never quite fit it..."