Review: ‘The Big O’

"The Big O" applies the codes of reality television to women's sexuality -- to distinctly mixed results. Tyro docu-maker Michaline Babich earned the trust of three women, known here only by their first names, as they embark on a weeklong workshop in Austin, Texas, to find out why each has a difficult time reaching orgasm.

“The Big O” applies the codes of reality television to women’s sexuality — to distinctly mixed results. Tyro docu-maker Michaline Babich earned the trust of three women, known here only by their first names, as they embark on a weeklong workshop in Austin, Texas, to find out why each has a difficult time reaching orgasm. Pic is an odd blend of daring subject with bland filmmaking that seems intended for open-minded PBS outlets, as well as indie and appropriate fests.

Summer, 25, thinks her problems stem from an inability to give in an intimate setting; Wendy, 30, finds reaching orgasm a painful, physical strain; Laurie, 35, claims never to have had an orgasm, and links her struggles with many years of drug-addled bouts of anonymous sex. What’s amusing here is how the women begin the week with serious-looking, white-jacketed female doctors, and end up spending time with extremely New Age-y “transformational therapists,” masturbation specialists and, in Wendy’s case, a local stripper. The real value in this account is that much of the observed sexual dysfunction is medical and physical — not in the head.

The Big O

Production

Produced by Bonnie Buckner, Michaline Babich. (International sales: Film Transit Intl., Montreal.) Directed by Michaline Babich.

Crew

Camera (color, video), Yamit Shimonovitz; editor, Christina A. Hoffman; music, Daniel Paquet Davis; music supervisor, Elizabeth Miller; sound, Dina Parkinson, Diane Weidenkopf. Reviewed at Los Angeles Film Festival, June 22, 2002. Running time: 59 MIN.

With

Summer, Wendy, Laurie, Dr. Susna Janosik, Dr. Elizabeth Houser, Dr. Joel Fleischmann, Dr. Karen G. Swenson, Stephanie Hahn, Linda Kirk, Jade Beaty, Jo Cobbett, Deborah S. Eidson, Dr. Carol Queen, Eden.
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