If you ever wanted to know the secret lives that hide behind bedroom doors – The Little Death is a quirky romantic comedy that lets us peek into some taboo, some unheard of and some hilarious sexual situations. Written and directed by Josh Lawson, (who also stars in the film) The Little Death is a smart and cheeky film than not only allows us to explore the fantasies of others at a safe distance, but surprisingly also offers a big chunk of heart through it’s sincere script.
Set on a street that could be anywhere, we first meet Maeve (Bojana Novakovic) who wants her boyfriend Paul (Lawson) to rape her and take her by surprise that – for a second – she doesn’t know that it’s him. In an attempt to prove his love and his worth, he tries to please her with some messy and of course hilarious outcomes. Suddenly this little fantasy has become a big romantic gesture that changes their relationship, proving it might be worth while to open up your skeleton closet and let those hidden and forbidden secrets come flying out.
Evie (Kate Mulvany) and Dan (Damon Herriman) on the other hand, are trying to rekindle their intimacy when their counselor suggests role playing. What starts with a little fun and games, takes a strange turn when Dan starts to take his roles too seriously and uses their intimate time to work on his acting portfolio. One night playing dress ups, Evie plays a patient to Doctor Dan, who instead of trying to seduce her, tells her tells her she has hepatitis and writes her a prescription. One acting disaster after another, the sexy role playing quickly loses its charm as Dan continually lose sight of Evie and why they started this in the first place.
Soon we start learning about sexual fantasies that are not of your usual leather and feather variety. Continuing using cute little pop up explanations, Lawson enlightens us with two different couples and your eyebrows will definitely rise. You might be tempted to judge Phil (Alan Dukes) who accidentally drugs his wife Maureen (Lisa McCune) and then continues to do it – but as we learn he suffers from Somnophilia – where he rather spend some alone time with her while she’s asleep. Although there is no hanky-panky and he uses his time for ‘good’, we somehow try to understand Phil and that he is only trying to get through his unhappy marriage. Maureen usually puts him down and berates him, but when the drugs kick in and shes asleep – Phil can enjoy her softer and quieter side and starts to fall in love all over again.
A few doors down, Rowena (Kate Box) and Richard (Patrick Brammall) are trying desperately to have a baby, and while nothing seems to be working, Rowena then learns that it might help to orgasm to increase their chances. Fair enough. Problem is that she has found herself only being sexually attracted to Richard when he cries – a Paraphilias known as Dacryphilia. She then starts to ask him to help out in the kitchen by chopping onions and bringing home tear jerk-er movies, putting up photos of his dad who just passed away. As these tactics wear out, she is forced to up her game and Rowena becomes a little twisted and creepy in her pursuit of tears, leaving poor Richard dehydrated from crying all the time and desperately confused at the state of their relationship.
The definite highlight of the film is when we meet Monica (Erin James) who works for a Skype service, translating phone calls from deaf. One night she takes a call from Sam (T.J. Power) who wants her to call a phone-sex line and translate back and forth a very R-rated conversation. Despite being the story line that actually gives us more of the descriptive look of what happens under the sheets, it becomes very genuine, intimate and heartfelt – making it also the funniest and best crafted scenes in the film.
The film is unique and without a doubt, one of the more original films I have seen for a while. Although the Evie and Dan’s situation does become a little tiresome and there are some lose ends at the end I wishes were more resolved, The Little Death is a fresh and easy to enjoy comedy that’s actually quite warm and relateable. I discovered The Little Death is the English translation from the French phrase La petite mort, an euphamism for an orgasm, but has also been used metaphorically. Literary critic Roland Barthes used this to describe the feeling one should get when experiencing any great literature. From this film reviewer, the same could be said. The Little Death is a handsomely served La petite mort.
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