Startlingly candid and hilarious, Amy’s O is a romantic comedy about love, neuroses, and “the big O.” Writer/director/star Julie Davis follows in the female footsteps of Woody Allen by offering up a wry look at sex and the single girl with a twist of sweetness and warmth.
Amy’s Orgasm 8.0
“The primary difference between a man and a woman is that man gets his self-esteem when a woman says yes and a women gets hers when she says no.”
Earlier this year, after watching ‘Finding Bliss‘, I was immediately curious to see what else director Julie Davis had been up to. I had found her female characters refreshingly unconventional and appreciated that she placed them in an unfamiliar -if not unusual- setting. I enjoyed this different take on an all-too-familiar familiar genre and wanted more.
But I never expected to find her other films anywhere. Already, finding ‘Finding Bliss’ had already been pure happenstance. And her other indie efforts appeared to be even more rare, elusive; films of this ilk are already lucky enough to find a distributor, but they often only remain in circulation for a limited time – after wasting away in dustbins for undue periods of time.
So I was pleasantly surprised when, ever on the lookout, I found ‘Amy’s Orgasm’ (retitled ‘Amy’s O’ on home video for obvious reasons ) in a really sketchy CD and DVD store in Montréal, jammed between piles of other long-forgotten and/or unrecognizable titles. It looked like a crappy DVD, in that it had been repackaged in pan and scan with no apparent features by some local distributor – perhaps even from the original VHS tape, for all I know.
It’s been on my radar, in my top 200 films to watch, ever since. And I knew that it would just be a matter of time. You see, every August, I like to go through a series of motion pictures that have some sexual connection – either by being sexy, by having frank discussions about sexuality, or in that they push boundaries. It’s a theme like any other, and you simply have to find excuses to watch certain things when there’s so much on your plate. Otherwise, where do you begin?
But why August? The key reason is that, a few years ago, some Canadian decided that he’d try to start a National Sex Day. He chose August 21, for whatever reason. Unfortunately, the last I heard of this initiative was back in 2008, suggesting that it wasn’t much of a hit. It’s shame, though, because we have days for everything – so it seems to me that the least we could do is have one to celebrate our sexuality. Anyway, that’s my excuse for watching these films – to honour this non-holiday.
(in turn, this serves to indicate the delay time between an initial viewing and the publication of a blurb; this movie was originally watched on August 22! )
‘Amy’s Orgasm’ is about a young relationship guru who has been single for four years and is suddenly faced with the desire to date again – and, in particular, the exact type of man that she warns her readers against. It offers some candid observations and self-examination mixed with humour and hope. It also takes a surprisingly grounded approach to relationships, eschewing fairytale scenarios and/or melodrama – something that standard Hollywood fare rarely does.
Julie Davis wrote, directed and plays our protagonist, Amy. Some might think that this makes of ‘Amy’s Orgasm’ either an ego-trip on Davis’ part or that it was a make-do situation, due to a limited budget. Frankly, I see evidence of neither. Not only did Davis deliver on all counts, proving that genuine ability -not wishful thinking (I’m looking at you, Tommy Wiseau )- was at play here: the majority of the picture looks quite good and the actors are all solid, meaning that the production budget was hardly hobbled to the point that she was forced to rely on herself.
Davis brings a sweetness to Amy that makes her instantly likeable, and a realness that echoes ‘Sex and the City’ somewhat (i.e. minus some of the superficiality and irrational relationship choices ). She has also made the character relatable in that she isn’t entirely perfect, admirable in that she is an aspirational person who also achieves her goals, and inspirational in that she is committed to speaking her truths intelligently and defiantly, despite any opposition from the public, from friends, and even from family.
Basically, she is the heart of the picture. If the character had been designed differently, or another actress had played the part, or if the balance had been shifted to give more room to the other characters, ‘Amy’s Orgasm’ would have lost its center. And even though I don’t agree with everything that she espouses, I found her arguments reasonable enough and no position was so extreme that it left me dubious. So she comes off as a strong, independent woman with a pretty good head on her shoulders. And for reals, too – she’s not just a Hollywood facsimile.
That’s not to say that the film doesn’t have its share of amusing, interesting, and even intriguing secondary characters; Davis has filled her picture with numerous flesh and blood parts. For instance, Amy’s foil, a crude, man’s man radio personality, actually offers more than mere gruffness and coarseness – he has layers that, while barely revealed, can be seen. Her best friends, meanwhile, are a true-to-life couple who make it work, but have their own idiosyncrasies. Her parents are a brutally honest pair who are equally supportive and dismissive at once, and her publicist is a pragmatic romantic.
While the whole cast is very good, I was particularly surprised by Nick Chinlund, who plays her paramour, Matthew Starr (hmmm, is this a nod to Darren Star, creator of Sex and the City? ). The whole time that I watched this film I was seeing a more gruff version of Harrison Ford. And I’m not saying this in a denigrating way, as you either like Ford or you don’t, but he had a similar cool gaze and projected Ford’s familiar macho confidence. He was the perfect match for Davis’ Amy – equally accomplished and self-assured.
Imagine Kristin Davis and Harrison Ford together in an intelligent romantic comedy, and you might a sense of what to expect with ‘Amy’s Orgasm’. Even though its title might imply something more suggestive, the film only teases the mind. Still, it also tickles the funny bone and warms the heart at the same time, making for quite a seductive package. I would recommend this to fans of the afore-mentioned ‘SATC’, Woody Allen-esque comedies, and to anyone who enjoys a less traditional twist to their romantic fare. These people, especially, would find ‘Amy’s Orgasm’ rather satisfying.
Post scriptum: I’ve just hunted down a proper edition of the film, which was released in the US with interviews, commentary, outtakes and so forth, as special features. I am eagerly awaiting its arrival.