Lena and Michelle help Jazz to produce a demo tape of a television talk show that would allow women to speak plainly about 'dating and mating in the '90s.
The interviewees, grappling with issues that may be significant for them, unfortunately sound like the guests on daytime talk shows. Throughout the film, you keep expecting some revelation about women's sexuality but, instead, what you hear are complaints about insensitive male lovers who go to sleep right after sex, and insecure female lovers who practice promiscuity to bolster their egos.
Perhaps wishing to compensate for her interviewees' lack of insight, Beyer's fictional overlay for the film-the story about the three housemates and their lovers, friends and family-explores some very important issues confronting women in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships.
Although these issues arise in the midst of a muddled screenplay, they're often quite arresting. Both Lena and Michelle suffer from low self-esteem; Lena allows a man to use her for sex and Michelle uses men for sex. They're two sides of the same coin, and through them Beyer is able to portray the barriers women create to intimacy, perhaps born of some childhood trauma, but barriers nonetheless. Trapped in their feelings of worthlessness, Lena and Michelle consistently choose men who aren't capable of sustaining a fulfilling relationship.
Drew and Morgan suffer from similar self-esteem problems, which leads one or the other to flirt or to have sex with another woman in order to assure themselves of their desirability.
Despite the limitations of the film, Paget Brewster, an experienced television and theatre actress, gives a memorable performance as Michelle. Michelle's mother neglects her to satisfy the wishes of her second husband. When her mother fails to show up for a Mother's Day dinner, Michelle confronts her and learns that her mother's submission to her stepfather's wishes is the source of her own neurosis-Michelle seeks to control men in order to escape her mother's fate.
It's a good scene, in which Brewster communicates the chaotic emotions that emerge at such a cathartic moment. The actress even manages to make the superficial transition from tortured woman to happy girlfriend-as a result of her relationship with A. Let's Talk About Sex rarely catches women offguard; although you don't doubt the sincerity of the interviewees, you feel that Beyer missed that one moment when they were genuinely speaking from their heart.
Part of the problem is that the film rarely gets past the most literal descriptions of women's sexual habits. Beyond satisfying the audience's prurient interest-and the film really doesn't strive for that-there's no insight into the source of women's sexuality. Why are the young women in this film feeling so unfulfilled in their relationships with men?
Their longing for sexual fulfilment is obviously a desire for something far more complex, more poetic-it's a cry for spiritual awakening. No filmmaker in recent memory made this point more clearly than Heddy Honnigman in O Amor Natural, a documentary in which elderly residents of Rio de Janeiro speak about their reactions to erotic poetry.
Honnigman taps into something Beyer misses almost entirely: For most people, sex isn't sexy. In fact, our notions about the role sex plays in our lives are much more intriguing than what we actually do in bed.