The Little Death is one big ole tease. It’s a movie about sex but where are the gratuitous sex scenes? Where’s the slow music, the dim lighting, the moaning and groaning, the perfectly toned body doubles?
This is not a sexy movie, but it’s the next best thing–a comedy about it. As Saturday Night Live reminded us in the 1980s, ‘everybody doesn’t like something but nobody doesn’t like orgasms’. It is a movie that exposes the foibles and pitfalls of intimate relationships without being glib or offensive.
In a short (in other words, perfectly edited) 90 minutes The Little Death takes the audience on a romp through the sex life and fantasies of five couples. It is also educational. Dictionary definitions introduce each sexual ‘deviation’: sado-masochism, role-playing, dacryphilia, somnophilia, telephone scatologia. Yes, it’s amazing what you learn when you go to the movies.
Set in a somewhat affluent but completely ordinary suburb, each couple is negotiating their relationship through their sex life. As each story folds, a new neighbour (brilliantly played by Kim Gyngel) visits proffering freshly baked biscuits. He has a genius for arriving at the most awkward moments and often breaks the couple’s tension. They are so distracted; they fail to comprehend his important message.
While the overall timbre of the movie is humorous, serious issues are explored: the complexities of a couple trying desperately to conceive; a couple whose marriage is disintegrating; a man trying to realise his dream of becoming an actor (actorgasm I’m informed; yes, irony). The most complicated and potentially controversial story is that of the woman who confesses to a rape fantasy. The story is handled sympathetically and with a light touch, but it might prove difficult for some people to accept. The funniest story concerns a deaf man and his attempts to have phone sex.
Overall, the movie is immensely satisfying with deft direction, finely honed performances (look for local lad Josh Lawson) and a great soundtrack. It is humorous, thought-provoking and, most of all, clever. Did I mention it’s Australian?
Voyeurs note, if you’re looking for some Game of Thrones prurience, then this isn’t the movie for you.
Words by Toni Johnson-Woods