THE LITTLE DEATH

★★★

Dir: John Lawson (2014)

This episodical Aussie comedy is a grasping search through sexual perversion which looks at several couples and their miscommunication inside and outside the bedroom. Actor/director John Lawson tackles rape fantasies, Dacryphilia (arousal from watching people in emotional distress), a man’s odd affair with his own unknowing wife and a door knocking paedophile who connects them all. Lawson saves the best until last with a brilliant self-contained short about a deaf/mute translating service and one amorous client. Uneven, offensive and funny The Little Death is a rare film about sex which more often than not hits the taboos without much cringe factor.

The ensemble cast is funny and sharp beginning with Maeve (Bojana Novakovic) and foot fetishist Paul (Lawson). He mishears her want to be raped as “rated” and he awkwardly gives her five stars setting up the tone of a film about how we very often disconnect as sexual people. Dan (Damon Herriman) and Evie (Kate Mulvany) begin to experiment with role play which takes an awkward turn when Dan discovers an untapped love for acting, pushing his wife away to a distant second after his own feeling and performance.

The vignettes which don’t work; One in which bored navy blue office worker Phil (Alan Dukes) decides to drug his nagging wife, Maureen (Lisa McCune) and ends up finding the silence arousing and a segment in which a caring wife finds a new-found fantasy when her husbands father dies; His tears turn her on, leading to more and more dastardly ways to upset the man she loves.

The final 20 minutes of The Little Death is really the highlight of the film; A sweet and hilarious back and forth (and back) between a signing translator (Erin James), a phone sex operator and a young horny artist (T.J Power) yields a tender and brilliant finale. Drawing perhaps from Jennifer Jason Leigh‘s character in Robert Altman‘s Short Cuts Lawson betters the whole film and personifies the theme of the film. Things unheard and unspoken; Maybe we all need a translator in the bedroom?

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