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Film review: The Little Death – sex comedy anthology plays like Love Actually after dark

Australian film about the sexual fetishes of five suburban couples raises a few interesting questions, but is ultimately too tame to leave a lasting impact

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 June, 2016, 5:45pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 June, 2016, 5:45pm

3/5 stars

Tackling the salacious subject of sexual fantasies on screen can be a tricky business, as past cinematic efforts will attest. Last year’s Fifty Shades of Grey drew little more than smirks from audiences for its tame depiction of bondage and domination. More outlandish explorations, such as David Cronenberg’s Crash or Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo, seem to enrage the censors and provoke outcry from sensitive corners of the media rather than generate any kind of meaningful discourse.

With that in mind, Josh Lawson’s comedy anthology, in which five couples in the same suburban neighbourhood wrestle with a quintet of sexual fetishes, scores some laughs and fuzzy feels, but fails to examine any kind of real-world repercussions.

Maeve (Bojana Novakovic) confesses to Paul (Lawson) that she fantasises about being raped, prompting a string of farcical episodes, rather than a more judgmental response. Elsewhere, Rowena (Kate Box) persistently upsets her grieving husband after discovering she can only climax when he cries. In the film’s best sequence, an operator at a video call centre (Erin James) forms a connection with a deaf client (TJ Power) who makes obscene phone calls.

Lawson’s film does its best not to judge its characters, and his jokes occasionally probe some dark and daring territory, but The Little Death never feels much more than Love Actually after dark – or Sex Actually, if you will. That said, the film does promote open and frank discussion about sexual preferences between consenting couples, something we could all stand to do more regularly.

The Little Death opens on June 23

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