A Complete History of My Sexual Failures (2008) Review

You have to be either brave or stupid to play out your past relationships on-screen, for everyone to see, especially if all of them “failed.” You also have to be quite self-involved and egotistical. Its one thing to decide that you are going to analyse yourself in an attempt to make yourself happier or a better person, but to then decide that other people would want to watch the experience and share it with you is another thing entirely.

Of course, my argument there fails because I was intrigued. I did want to watch and was interested about the idea of this man going back and asking “why didn’t we work?” The issue I discovered early on was, this guy is obnoxious, idiotic, self-obsessed and ignorant to almost everyone else. This leads to brilliantly funny moments but not a charming, interesting journey of self-discovery and growth.

The clues are all there. From the beginning, when Chris Waitt is trying to contact his ex-girlfriends, he finds that nobody actually wants to take part. This should have been a clue to both him and the rest of the people involved, that this film was going to be a struggle but with every single slammed phone and baffled rejection, your interest in the film does grow.

The constant rejections and stone-walling from his ex-girlfriends peaks your interest.

It does feel, at times, like your taking a “too intimate” look at a person’s life. You wouldn’t mind if this was a drama or a quirky, independent comedy, but when you are actually watching a man’s “first love” trivialise their relationship, your body does tense up and you squirm as he asks more and more personal and sometimes humiliating questions.

This sympathy for Chris only lasts so long though. The more we delve into his life, the more you realise that it’s becoming quite clear that he just isn’t a “nice guy.” He has qualities that would drive anyone crazy and we are actually watching someone’s self-indulgent reflection on their life more than an attempt to reflect and improve. Some of the revelations about Chris are just weird and others a breezed over when they probably should have been examined further, one example being a throw-away comment by an ex who claims Chris used to believe he was Jesus! I actually rewound the film to rewatch that moment because it was said and then never referred to again! It feels like a “hand-picked” examination and improvement plan.

The interviews reveal some insightful and sometimes embarrassing things that are often, too quickly skimmed over.

The other issue is that Chris isn’t actually trying very hard. If the aim of the film was to improve upon himself and use the advice from his ex-girlfriends to change, he should probably try slightly harder. Even if its tiny steps like cleaning his flat before a date comes back! It all seems to highlight the clueless nature of the documentary and the aimless point of the whole exercise.

The film is infuriating at times but always entertaining. There is a morbid curiosity that anyone has when they get an intimate glimpse at another person’s life, particularly if sex plays a key part of the story. It’s the reason that reality television is so successful and that is what Chris Waitt’s film actually feels like. It’s also, unintentionally maybe, funny. To see Chris get feedback from a girl from behind a screen, via a computer or to have a door slammed in his face by his most recent girlfriend, is funny. Especially because by that point, I began to feel like he deserved it.

 

There are moments when you actually wonder whether Chris is actually trying to “improve” himself.

 

Chris does seem to be trying to tell a different story about why he is unlucky in love and comes to a “I never got over her” conclusion. For me, the conclusion was simpler than that and I think it’s quite plain that he is just an eccentric, self-obsessed human being and that seems to be the reason he actually struggles.

Overall, this film is entertaining but infuriating. It does rely on the general public’s morbid interest in other people’s misfortune and struggles, particularly if they involve sex and love. The issue is that Chris has a lot more self discovery to do before he even scratches the surface and this film doesn’t even get close.

Rating 2.5

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

There is something pathetically funny about a guy getting doors slammed in his face by angry ex-girlfriends though…
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3 thoughts on “A Complete History of My Sexual Failures (2008) Review

  1. Haven’t heard of this but this seems like a total failure of a documentary because the documentarian is the subject but also has total control over the events of the film. Had the subject been a third party, it would have still been coerced by the documentarian to show what he wanted, but at least they wouldn’t have such a personal stake in what was playing out on the screen. It would be less introspective but perhaps all that would be needed for a more interesting film would be an outsider’s objective view.

    Still, I’m intrigued by this.

    1. It was one that seem interesting from the synopsis I read but you’re right, it fails because the subject of the documentary has creative control. It would have been a very different film if someone else was making it and editing it because there seems to be very specific, strange moments that are just ignored.

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