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Each month, two intrepid TFS writers will watch a Canadian film and debate on whether or not it deserves to be essential viewing for the Canuck movie enthusiast.

Since TFS’ July theme is focused on pornography as a legitimate art form, it seemed like a no-brainer for Editor-in-Chief Trista DeVries and Managing Editor Kristal Cooper to discuss 2007’s Young People Fucking which was written and directed by Martin Gero, with co-writing by Aaron Abrams.

Kristal: I hadn’t watched this since its opening theatrical weekend and the thing that struck me the most was the fact that for a film with such a purposely provocative name, it’s really boring, and vanilla….and boring. The scenarios are pretty safe, the people are all varying degrees of pretty and the sex is kind of ordinary.

Trista: I really like Martin Gero, and I feel badly that he ““ like every good Canadian talent ““ has been relegated to the TV world doing good, but decidedly American television. That said, while I admire the effort here, I agree that the sex is very vanilla, but most importantly, everyone is white (with the exception of that one guy) and everyone is straight. I feel like a film that’s called Young People Fucking should at least include an actual cross section of what it looks like when young people fuck.

Kristal: Absolutely! Not a whole lot of diversity going on. However the one sequence I really did like was the one featuring Callum Blue (who I’ve enjoyed since TV’s Dead Like Me ) as the seemingly predatory ladies’ man and Diora Baird  as his seemingly innocent one-night stand.  By the way, neither of those actors are actually Canadian yet I thought they were the strongest two in the film and were given the most to work with. I was most invested in their storyline and thought it was the only one that actually seemed to explore the motivations of the two characters. If it had have gone just a little bit further with the way the two were manipulating one another I think it could have turned into some biting black comedy which both of those actors would have handled well. One major downside was the total lack of nudity in the sequence, which made it feel especially soft (no pun intended).

Trista: You know, I get very concerned about the Canadian director’s “attention” grabbing schemes. And I don’t just mean Gero, I actually mean English Canadian films across the board. For instance, One Week was an attention grabber because it was about a guy traversing Canada (something we really like) and doing very Canadian things along the way. Put Josh Jackson in it and it’s attention grabbing, but not necessarily substantive or adding to the overall canon of national cinema. Men with Brooms is like this as well, but is a better film. A more recent ““ and potent ““ example is Goon . It has all the hallmarks necessary to be one of the highest grossing Canadian films of all time ““ and is a great movie to boot, but garners attention in a very inorganic way: with gratuitous violence, hockey and a hilariously vulgar guy.

So, wrapping YPF into this equation, I have to wonder if this what Canadians think we have to do to make movies people will actually see ““ and if so, what does that say about the foundation for the future of our national cinema? Will we just become a country whose national culture is based on swearing, hockey and vanilla sex? Or, is art really imitating life?

Kristal: I think it’s probably hard for English Canada to find its filmmaking identity apart from the US influx of competition so filmmakers opt for a hook that seems like it can compete with the kind of stuff that dominates at the box office. That is, sort of base, non-threatening popcorn fare. Not that that’s always a bad thing. I really liked One Week , Men with Brooms and Goon but I think those three films all embraced what they were going for wholeheartedly while Young People Fucking did a half-assed (again, no pun intended) job of living up to its name.

Trista: I fully agree on those points. Essentially, I felt that it was a film that got attention because it was movie that put a curse word in the title, not because it had substance or was good. I think, however, that it’s essential that we move past this non-threatening popcorn fare to something with actual substance. Goon was definitely this type of film, since it had actual characters you could invest in, while still being mighty entertaining and having some kind of message.

Kristal: Also, what did we come away with after watching the film? I know it’s a comedy and not necessarily there to make a big statement about anything but to me, there wasn’t a lot of insight into even the couples we were presented with.  By the end we learn: married people get bored sometimes, both women and men like to get laid, occasionally there are more strings attached to sex than we realize…nothing staggering there. I needed a little more depth  to make me care about the characters.

Lastly, it needed some penis.

Trista: Ummm what do you mean by that?

Kristal: Well, just that we had a whole lot of boob yet there wasn’t even one shot of a penis (the pink strap-on doesn’t count). Not even a comical reveal or flash of male full frontal a la Forgetting Sarah Marshall . That seems odd to me considering the subject matter. In fact, the whole movie seemed edited for TV. I guess that was Gero divining his own career path?

Trista: Oh yeah! I totally agree. It’s a cute and kind of charming movie that’s fun, but its lack of substance and overall narrow view of the relationships involved make it very difficult for me to recommend this a movie for all of Canada to see and call our own. You know?

The TFS Verdict: Zip up your fly folks, Young People Fucking is not essential Canadian cinema.

What do you think?

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