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A Complete History Of My Sexual Failures review

Imagine John Cusack’s old-squeeze survey in High Fidelity stretched to feature length. Then played for real, by a 30-something Londoner whose old girlfriends all chucked him. The Love’s A Bitch Project, anyone? Such is the pitch of Chris Waitt’s documentary, which falters in places but musters up enough humour, heart and honesty to say something true about men, women, love and lust.

Waitt’s man-child mannerisms and Kurt Cobain chic probably worked for him in his youth. But this living-shambles schtick is getting old, like the blue-tinged food in his fridge. An overhang haunts his belly and he’s hungover from old loves. Could it get any worse? Yes. His cock is on sex-strike. Waitt’s answer to his ‘issues’ plays like YouTube-patented therapy: grab a camera and ask his exes to anatomise his failings on film.

The results are vigorously farcical. Some deny him the time of day. One lobs legal threats. Others get tough and fire tasty truths his way. In response, Waitt just sits there befuddled, his blank-faced reaction shots expertly timed for high humour. But they’re also slyly revealing, hinting at a history of terminal indifference that, perhaps, got him so serially dumped.

 

Funny as all this is, though, there’s limited value in male fecklessness. Padding creeps in during a scrotum-scrunching S&M trip and a Viagra-powered sex-prowl stunt, where Waitt trundles amiably but haphazardly into Jackass-style japery. Conviction is History’s trump card; these contrivances dilute it. Just in time, though, Waitt gets real. Without giving anything away, his prankster pitch buckles to reveal a hidden heartache resistant to humour or repair. As genuine feeling floods in, he learns things about growing up. Life, even. Could his frolics have been softening us up for a killer blow to take us unawares? Whether Waitt is smarter than he acts or not, his film finally succeeds where his love life fails.

Hilarious but highly affecting when least expected, Chris Waitt's self-lacerating doc-com plays dumb but has tricks up its sleeve. Sometimes the cracks in its contrivances show but, at best, Waitt manages to tap insights about love, life and getting older.

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