A Complete History of My Sexual FailuresWednesday 25 Jun 2008
Director: Chris Waitt
Starring: Chris Waitt, Hilary Waitt, Alexandra Boyaraskaya, Danielle McLeod and Olivia Trench.
Duration: 93 minutes
Cinema is more democratic than ever and if you really want it, you too can have your 15 minutes of fame. Chances are, however, that you’ll need to do something pretty wacky to get them. Essentially, that’s what has happened here. Chris Waitt has come up with an attention-seeking idea and it's worked. People are watching.
Bravo Chris? Well, not really.
Unfortunately, given that he is working from a relatively promising premise, Waitt has wasted his opportunity by making an inordinately dull and frustrating to watch documentary-feature that is totally undermined by his own disingenuous, lazy and callow approach.
It begins with Waitt outlining the premise - to find his exes and ask them what’s wrong with him - and then attempting to track down some of them via cold calls and surprise visits. A fairly charmless individual at the best of times, he struggles to get anyone to talk to him. He does manage to score a few cinematic 'door slam' moments along the way.
Eventually, things start to pick up. He meets some ex-girlfriends, and after a lot of rather dull interviews, some mental health issues - including erectile dysfunction - emerge. He visits a doctor, who advises Viagra and counselling.
A contrived visit to a dominatrix is also shoe-horned in; one of several sequences in which what is terribly thin material has been fleshed out or added in to give the film something to do.
Subsequently, in what is intended to be the film’s low point, Waitt wanders around asking random passers-by for sex after getting drunk and taking seven Viagra tablets. On screen, it is even less appetising and/or funny than it sounds.
In other words, most of this film is complete rubbish. Why? One reason is that we've seen a lot of it before, only done better.
Waitt used to work with Sacha Baron Cohen while they were at university and 'A Complete History…' is very much dependent on a bastardisation of the Baron Cohen/'Borat' approach. However, because the Waitt persona is totally lacking in charisma or panache, without even a decent gimmick to fool around with, it all falls flat.
Even worse is Waitt's copying. He shamelessly lifts the running on an exercise machine/falling off gag from 'Borat' while the scene in which he sings a 'funny' song about his sexual problems to a sex counsellor is also very much in the Baron Cohen-lite vein.
At least Borat's targets usually deserve whatever they get. Like so much else in this film, the counsellor scene plays as a lame attempt to make someone else feel uncomfortable for your amusement. The effect is to make the viewer feel like a cheap co-conspirator in Waitt's sad antics.
Other problems include the film's frequent lack of a feeling of verisimilitude; a disclaimer at the end reveals that reconstructions have been used.
There are, it must be said, occasional decent lines and funny moments, and in an interview with Vicki, a recent ex, Waitt finally manages to escape the infuriating emotionally deadened, disengaged-but-shameless pose he spends 95% of the film in.
Rare signs of what might have been? Probably not.