I Am a Sex Addict
IFC Films // Unrated // $24.95 // September 12, 2006
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted September 17, 2006
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In 10 Words or Less
Inside the mind of the sex-obsessed

Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: Good independent films, rule-breaking films
Likes: Caveh Zahedi, meta films
Dislikes: Cheaters

The Movie
Independent films are the only place for true experimentation today, as studios turn to sequels, old TV shows and snakes on a plane for "inspiration." It's incredible to think that not too long ago, corporations paid for films like Fight Club, or much further back "Myra Breckinridge," when you look at the garbage they pump out today. Thankfully, art is still alive and well, in filmmakers like Caveh Zahedi.

Looking at this writer/director, he's the last person you'd expect to see as the star if a film about sex addiction. Nebbish, in the mold of Woody Allen, he's far from a sex symbol, but he's got a lengthy history with the ladies, one he shares in a very meta way. The film takes the conventions of what a comedy or biopic is and mixes them up in a way that is both revealing and hilarious, while ingenious in its construction.

The autobiography that makes up the majority of the film is both engaging and frustrating. Zahedi is a man addicted to sex, more so than the average man. Though he forms solid relationships with women, attractive women with healthy sex drives, it's never enough for him, sending him into the arms (and other body parts) of prostitutes. As a result, he sabotages his opportunities for happiness, seeking an orgasm instead, no matter how many second chances he's given.How he could screw up so often risks him transitioning from hero to loser, but his unique worldview and absolute honesty makes it somewhat easy to stay on his side.

The film frequently beaks the fourth wall, as Zahedi pauses scenes and creates artificial segues, often with very funny results. Rarely boastful, he brings a very low-key personality to the screen, which helps the film's deadpan style of delivery. One scene, in which he explains the casting of one of the characters, is so natural and real that no matter how far-out the story gets (and with the amount of paid-for sex involved, it does get far-out), it still maintains a sense of reality. That Zahedi brings photos anf videos of the real people he's documenting into the mix further blurs the lines and accentuates the blend of fact and fiction.

The story is mostly funny, taking detours into drama, that again makes it all the more real. Though the amount of sex might take some out of the film, it's not a sexy film, in fact, thanks to Zahedi's "performance," the sex is far more humorous than arousing. It's important that the sex isn't fulfilling or positive, or there'd be less reason for Zahedi to break his addiction to it. There would also be far less of the comedy found throughout the film here. The old axiom is proven correct: It's funny because it's true.

The one-disc release is packaged in a standard, insert-less keepcase. The disc features an animated, anamorphic-widescreen main menu, with options to watch the film, select scenes, adjust languages and check out the special features. There are no language options, but there are subtitles available in English and Spanish. There is no closed captioning.

The Quality
Presented in a full-frame transfer, the film looks solid, with appropriate color, decent detail and no obvious dirt, damage or digital artifacts. The image is a bit soft in places, but overall there's nothing worth complaining about as far as what this disc looks like.

The aural presentation arrives in a 2.0 track, which is basically a dialogue track. It does a fine job with the sound, keeping the speech and music cleanly separated, but the center-focused delivery presents nothing in terms of dynamic sound.

The Extras
There's one extra, a look behind the scenes of the film's production. Presented in three pieces, "The Hotel Scene," "The Ecstacy Scene" and "The Mushroom Scene," which can be viewed together in a 33-minute chunk or separately. These are entertaining and interesting looks at how the movie was made, with one being particularly good, as an actress argues with Zahedi about being topless in the film.

The Bottom Line
If you're interested in films that don't follow the rules, or just want to enjoy yourself watching a guy struggle with an obsession with sex, this film will satisfy. A well-constructed autobiopic, with a sharp sense of deadpan humor, the film is a good time and a fascinating study in how to do something different with a movie. The DVD presentation is solid, with an interesting extra, but that may not be enough to get past some people's internal censors, as there is a good deal of nudity and a good deal of sex on-screen, though nothing graphic. Fans of monologue artists like Spalding Gray or other personal artists will want to check out how their stories could look with a good deal of imagination and some serious filmmaking skill.

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