YOUNG PEOPLE FUCKING Directed by Martin Gero, written by Gero and Aaron Abrams, with Abrams, Carly Pope and Callum Blue. A Maple Films release. 90 minutes. Opens Friday (June 13). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNNNN
What’s in a name? in the case of Young People Fucking, everything.
Speaking as a critic of pornography, I would ordinarily stay away from a movie with this title. Had I not been assigned to cover YPF, I would have missed a soulful and important film.
It was the film’s title that got the forces of repression so freaked out that they’ve used the movie as a poster child for Bill C-10, currently before the Senate, which allows bureaucrats to stem funding to projects they deem offensive. YPF had successfully secured dough from the feds.
As it turns out the name is totally accurate: this is a movie about four 20-something couples and one threesome getting it on, and the camera almost never leaves the bedroom.
“I take full responsibility for having a provocative title, but I don’t think it’s misleading,” says director Martin Gero, sitting in a Hyatt hotel room with co-writer and actor Aaron Abrams. They’ve both just returned from Ottawa, where they screened the film for MPs.
No Conservatives showed.
“It would be another thing if we’d called it that and it was about a local chess club.”
“We never intended to keep [the name] for the final print,” adds Abrams. “When it got picked up, we kept waiting for some adult to make us change the title.”
“All the couples in the beginning just want to fuck,” Gero goes on. “The film is about how complicated it is to do that without getting emotion and love in there. Our generation has made an effort to separate the two. We’re saying it’s not so easily done.”
“The irony,” adds Abrams, “is that conservatives would get behind that theme – if they saw the film.”
“Yeah,” says Gero, “it’s a very pro-monogamy film in a strange sort of way.”
The two have no problem talking all over each other, the sign of a comfortable collaboration. A creative team would have to have this kind of ease. YPF is one of the first films ever in which the characters consistently talk about the sex they’re having, how it feels, whether it’s working and, most radically, when it’s not.
Woody Allen under the sheets with Shelley Duvall in Annie Hall comes close, but we have to fill in some blanks there. The French may have a noble history of showing a little more explicit action, but the conversation in bed is nothing like the gab – most of it hilarious – that goes on in YPF.
Those of us who think that shitty sex happens because we live in a culture that can’t talk about it will see this as a breakthrough.
“We felt like movies kept cutting away from the best parts,” says Gero. “I love romantic comedies. But romantic comedies have become sexless. Most of the time the sex scenes end at the first kiss.
“It’s the Nora Ephron-ization of romantic comedies. And sex comedies like American Pie are virginal.
“They’re for virgins,” clarifies Abrams. “They’re fun, juvenile things. A sex comedy for adults? I don’t know how you write a relationship comedy without sex being part of it.”
In one scenario featuring a couple in a long-term relationship, the woman suggests the two try something new and, the less adventurous will think, unusual.
“That’s my favourite scene to watch with an audience,” says Gero.
“Everyone thinks we’re gonna cut away,” Abrams suggests.“That’s what we were trying to do with the whole movie,” Gero interjects. “To have people say” – his voice takes on a panicked tone – “’Cut away now, movies are supposed to cut away now.’ And we never cut away.”
Gero and Abrams do worry that the title could, ironically, be a turnoff. Failing to get an audience would be one of the first bad things that has happened to the project. The film has had an easy ride so far. The duo got it made, had a successful screening at last year’s TIFF, got quick distribution and, via the Bill C-?10 controversy, tons of media attention.
“It’ll never be this easy again,” worries Abrams about the next project. “It’s all downhill from here.”
Comments on the screening for MPs in Ottawa:
Comments on why there are no gay couples in the film:
Comments on the crew and the challenge of creating a safe set for shooting sex-based scenes: