The People I've Slept With
A young woman is talking to her newborn baby.
"I love sex," she says. "And some people thought it was a bad thing. But I've learned that a slut is just a woman with the morals of a man."
Sudden, screeching rewind back in time, slightly less than nine months. The free-spirited adventurer in question, Angela (Karin Anna Cheung), has just learned that one of her adventures has resulted in an embryo. She considers getting an abortion—her gay best friend, Gabriel (Wilson Cruz) practically demands it—but her conservative sister Juliet (Lynn Chen) pressures/ fearmongers/ persuades her that her life would be better if she settled down to a normal, stable family life. "Settle down," she exhorts. "Grow up, and be happy for once." Somehow neglecting to notice that Angela is already pretty darned happy. And definitely neglecting to notice that Angela is making her own conscious decisions about her own life... pretty much the textbook definition of being grown up.
Starring Karin Anna Cheung, Wilson Cruz, Archie Kao, James Shigeta, Lynn Chen, Rane Jameson, Tim Chiou, and Stacie Rippy
Written by Koji Steven Sakai
Directed by Quentin Lee
People Pictures/408 Films Production
89 minutes. Unrated.
So Angela decides to keep the baby... and embarks on a comical search to figure out which of her many adventuring partners is the father. It's a challenge: Angela's partners are sufficient enough in number that she keeps track of them through what she calls "baseball cards," Polaroids with personal stats scrawled on the back. But she narrows the possibilities down to the five men she didn't use birth control with—and goes through an assortment of wacky hijinks to collect their DNA for paternity tests. Her heart is pulling her in one direction—toward Jefferson (Archie Kao), the sweetheart labeled on her baseball card as "Mystery Man"—but she's bound and determined that she's going to have a normal married life, which means the man she marries should bloody well be the man she happened to conceive with. Regardless of whether she actually, you know, likes him, and wants to spend the rest of her life with him.
Yes, I know. It's another "shmashmortion" movie, in which a woman who under any other circumstances would be off to Planned Parenthood in a nanosecond for an abortion mysteriously decides to keep the baby... because if she didn't, it'd be a fifteen-minute movie. It's an annoying pattern. Noted. Annoyed. Let's move on.
Because The People I've Slept With is, in fact, a movie worth moving on to. It's an odd duck: a mutant offspring of a smart, quirky, genuinely funny character study/ comedy of errors, and a sloppy, under-written jumble of cliches and careless implausibility. But the good stuff is sufficiently good—and sufficiently uncommon—to make it well worth a look.
Especially for anyone interested in movie depictions of unconventional sex.
For starters, it's delightful to see a woman in a movie have casual sex, with a wide assortment of partners of both genders, in a wide assortment of styles and variations... and be pretty much fine with it. And it's a striking reminder of how rare this is. (Samantha in the increasingly revolting Sex and the City franchise is pretty much all we've got. Loki help us all.)