I AM A SEX ADDICTNR
In I Am a Sex Addict, writer-director-star Caveh Zahedi tells his deeply personal tale in an odd fashion that is not quite documentary, not really mockumentary, and not fiction film either, but a hybrid of all three forms. Some viewers will embrace Zahedi's brutal honesty and original approach, while others will reject his self-indulgence and single-note tone.
From the outset, there is a misogynistic undercurrent as Zahedi charts the history of his addiction to fellatio and how it has affected his relationships with various wives and girlfriends. Yet I Am a Sex Addict sustains interest even as it offends.
Zahedi is a slight, effete intellectual filmmaker-a sort of Woody Allen without the jokes. (He actually resembles former "SNL" player Chris Kattan.) Thus, it becomes hard to believe so many beautiful women are attracted to the world-traveling Woody-lite filmmaker in the first place, but if Allen can create this kind of movie, why can't Zahedi? In each case, Zahedi's partners, including Caroline (Rebecca Lord), Christa (Emily Morse) and Devin (Amanda Henderson), put up with his craving for blow jobs from prostitutes, but eventually the relationships sour and dissolve. Finally, Devin's addiction to alcohol inspires Zahedi to attend a sex-addiction recovery program, which ultimately helps him take control of his life. At the end of the film, Zahedi marries a woman named Mandy.
While it is hard to root for Zahedi and his story is not very complex or unusual, I Am a Sex Addict confronts an authentic problem and tackles the issue in a way that is much more interesting than a by-the-numbers Discovery Channel documentary. By mixing actual home-movie footage with minimalist-style re-enactments from his life, Zahedi creates humorous self-reflexivity; by talking to the viewer during unexpected asides, he goes even further to break down cinema's "fourth wall." When Zahedi tells us the actresses playing the parts of his girlfriends refuse to perform certain acts and then unspools supposedly candid footage of the actresses (stepping out of character) during their protests, he restores some of the balance to the project's inherently sexist conceit.
Unfortunately, despite the conceptual daring, there is still the yecch factor-many scenes of women eagerly giving the filmmaker "head" as we watch him scream with delight. For those who were even slightly repulsed by the literal and figurative climax of Vincent Gallo's Brown Bunny, I Am a Sex Addict may not represent much of an improvement, however more discreet the view of the identical sexual act. (Even Zahedi's attempt to partly black out body parts proves a silly attempt at self-censorship.) The director could have been less gauche and gratuitous-perhaps more in the style of Arnaud Desplechin's My Sex Life...Or How I Got into an Argument.
This strange little movie is a mixed bag, hard to eagerly recommend but also hard to completely dismiss.