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“The Sex Lives of College Girls” tells the story of a group of sexually active, self-possessed twentysomethings who take stock of their lives and the advent of adulthood through the recurring, off-color encounters that are their basic food source. (The titular discovery is the fifth of the four-film collection, in which college freshman have been thrust into puberty, intra-house fights and even hiring gigs with porn directors.)
The 25-minute films vary in length but all are shot with a hand-held digital camera and edited by Sundance Film Festival veteran Mark Mylod, who writes his directorial compositions in order to counteract over-long scenes that block dialogue and artistic perspective. An ear-catching silent opening sets the tone for a movie that is admirably bold in its exploration of the superficial nuances of casual sex and sexuality.
In the film’s introductory moments, director Jacky Bliss (Caitlin Mehner) suggests her girlfriend Jemma (Kaity Tong) act on her desire to spice up their friendship by initiating tongue-in-cheek contact. The two decide to take the plunge, and to their surprise, the introduction quickly sets in motion a series of unexpected emotional, sexual and even comedic experiences between the two young women that are relatable, comedic and sometimes cringe-worthy.
Theirs is a story of independent spirit that is frequently laced with uncertainty, shyness and the pleasures and pitfalls of sensual yearnings.
“Porno Jane” (episode 1) follows their roommate Jamie (Catherine Curtin), a provocative diva on campus with an idealistic school administration and a lack of college friends. She coaxes Jamie into a threesome, at which point she herself encounters a rather unpleasant sex partner. Meanwhile, Glass (Caitlin Littky), the female protagonist of the first film, learns to navigate her emotional, cultural and sexual inexperience as she traverses relationships with a male friend and a dashing divorced comedian named Art (Jake Hull), who provides guidance about unloading sexual anxieties and interpersonal matters of the heart.
“Ass Swag: (3) Guys on Horror Bites” (episode 2) takes a similar approach. Exploring carnal pleasures, attempts at friendship and coupling while unfolding in a provocative fashion, the tale culminates in a serious friendship challenge for both male and female heroes.
“Cutthroat Dance: (4) Brothers on Pathetic Ravers” takes a long-vanished glamour film aesthetic, with a few camera angles and some very loose editing to distinguish this of surf slacker past and the slick, last-stop gathering that follows. (The movie’s title refers to a coming-of-age dance party for Hobart and Topham, which starts off as a sweet love scene and eventually evolves into a grinding string of near-fatal encounters.) All four movies feature flirtatious, gangly, sexually challenged, deglamorized women—minus the smutty dialogue—in situations of sexual experimentation, which hit close to home for many viewers. They are entirely narrated by women, who often come off as almost openly comfortable with their bodies, sexuality and no-holds-barred libidos. The extended attention to a female perspective may be as much an asset to the project as it is a detriment to the usual viewing experience for men, which in this collection is perhaps provided by none other than Mark Mylod.
“The Sex Lives of College Girls” should feel familiar to anyone who’s had the opportunity to watch or has experienced any number of summer camp or college camps—and quite possibly in greater doses. But thankfully, all eyes on the teenagers are on sex, sex and more sex. We may hope that this is another addition to the list of bodies that are on full display in mainstream movies on the big screen, but for some, this collection may feel a little too real and all too familiar to grapple with.
View all four shorts below:
THE SCREENING NOTES:
WORLD CINEMA: Some films have subtitles while others do not. Enjoyers are advised to try them out before watching this selection. For English subtitles, please use “UnDedicated Europe.”