A series of interconnected short films about teenagers, intimacy, race, class, rape, self-esteem, gender and alienation make up Rodrigo Bellott's Sexual Dependency. That's quite a mouthful, but appropriate for a film that tries too hard to be so much. Starting with teens in Bolivia and ending at a college in the northern U.S., the segments are connected by characters and tone. It doesn't take long to realise that things won't end well. Bellott painstakingly creates a world of troubled teens unable to define themselves when they are bombarded with images of what they should be. But by presenting his story as a "universal truth" he has, unfortunately, watered it down. We don't need one more example — we need to know one of the characters more. The majority of the film is shown with a split screen. This allows the filmmakers to show different points of view and, occasionally, different moments in time simultaneously. This tool is more distracting than enlightening; the split screen is used more effectively when we are watching a single scene from the same angle. The scene is projected split in two — two sides of the same image that don't quite add up. This disjointed imagery says everything that the characters don't express. Despite all their tough talk and conquests, no connections are made. The structure of Sexual Dependency is intriguing but it's not enough to make the film stand on its own. Bellott's cast is strong and clearly willing to take chances. Let's hope that for Bellott's next film, he spends more time with the actors than trying to weave an elaborate tale. (Cinemavault)