A Complete History of My Sexual Failures (2008) Film Review

Chris Waitt shoots a documentary that aims to uncover why every girlfriend he has ever had has dumped him. Part comedy and part emotional journey, Chris attempts to interview his exs with increasingly hard-hitting consequences.

ImageChris is a slacker somewhere in his thirties. He has never had a real job and he doesn’t seem to take anything seriously. His love life is a mess and Chris is on the brink of a pretty severe existential crisis. This could be a character from any number of mumblecore movies but it’s not – Chris is an amateur filmmaker plumbing the depths of his love life for some kind of answer.

The idea behind this film is a simple one and it’s even intriguing. Chris will interview every ex-girlfriend he can and ask them difficult questions. Chris wants to find out the singular magic reason why they all dumped him. It’s a naïve intention and as the film progresses it becomes painfully clear that the problem is him.

The film itself never really works. Instead it’s a number of disparate scenes all tied together by Chris Wait’s selective true-story account. More gonzo than anything else, this documentary stumbles when it becomes apparent that many of Chris’ old flames want nothing to do with him. This puts a spanner in the works and Chris, already doubting himself, starts to doubt his film project.

It turns out that Chris’ impotence is an actual real thing and it transpires that his penis is stuck in a flaccid state. It’s all a little bit meta by this point and the focus of the film becomes his erectile dysfunction. His sad face, framed by droopy blonde hair does elicit a pitiful response during the unpleasant conversations and embarrassing moments that his condition prompts. Chris doesn’t seem to have a filter and he’ll tell everyone in earshot all about his problems.

In an attempt to deal with his erectile dysfunction Chris takes “7 or 8” Viagra pills and this foreshadows the funniest scene in the movie. Chris gets very drunk and then, with a painful erection that could “last 8 hours”, he runs around a Scottish city begging random women to have sex with him. It’s crass, humiliating, and ultimately Office worthy filmmaking and it’s certainly staged.

This is perhaps the problem with this ostensibly honest soul searching documentary – it’s hard to see the truth. There are some crazy scenes peppered throughout this film (asking tramps if they’ve ever had erectile problems) but the film as a whole is a complete unruly mess, just like Chris’ hair. His confessional tone and its focus on his penis is not the narrative that was promised and it’s not as interesting. Instead of being about other’s opinions of Chris, it becomes all about what makes him tick. This leads to some interesting places, an S&M dungeon, but at the end of it all it’s completely self-centred.

One of the main problems with A Complete History of My Sexual Failures is its reductive tone and the fact that Chris will never listen. His ex-girlfriends all have valid points as to why things didn’t work out but Chris never really hears them or takes them seriously. Chris is a joker, and a likeable one at that, but he doesn’t inspire trust.

As the film draws to its conclusion there are some redeeming moments. A heavy hitting emotional scene does shake Chris from his complacency and help him to start looking forwards. Each one of his girlfriends wanted Chris to be different, to be on time, to be better but that wasn’t really what he needed. Chris needed someone much more like him.

This isn’t a very developed film and it’s nowhere near a complete history. But its fast paced convincing nonsense is an enjoyable stunt at the very least. A Complete History of my Sexual Failures is an entertaining if meaningless foray into one egotistical slackers past – just remember Chris Waits is the one telling the story so don’t expect anything too truthful.

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