Something pretty amazing can happen when a filmmaker treats the camera like a shrink, the movie theater like a confessional, the audience like a support group. When that tactic works, it's telling and insightful and a little bit discomfiting. When it doesn't, you end up with something like the autobiography/dramedy I Am a Sex Addict, in which director/writer/star Caveh Zahedi walks the audience through his realization that he's a sex addict.
Most of Zahedi's film plays out like this: Zahedi gets a girlfriend, confides in her that he wants a blowjob from a prostitute, goes and does it, problems ensue. Repeat. At first, Zahedi's manic editing keeps things lively—as he hastily skips in and out of years and relationships/marriages, I Am a Sex Addict has an urgency and affability that keeps it rolling. And initially, there's something charming, if not quite likeable, in Zahedi's shameless, eager willingness to share every detail of his obsessions.
But about halfway through, something happens—it's around the 15th time that the oblivious Zahedi ruins a relationship and doesn't even blink, or the 50th time that he blithely treats a girlfriend like shit: Turns out that Zahedi's a selfish prick. By the time we get to the self-involved Zahedi's teary catharsis, I didn't sympathize with him so much as I felt like an egocentric asshole had cornered me at a party and had been whining at me for an hour and a half.
Still wanting to give Zahedi credit for his openness, I found myself making excuses: "He's a pretty good filmmaker," "He got a really great performance out of that French porn star who plays one of his wives." But while there's something great about how candid Zahedi is, the fact that he never realizes how blindly, constantly horrible he is to his partners casts I Am a Sex Addict in a decidedly unsatisfying light. But, yeah, at least he's honest. And that French porn star is hot.