A game cast has fun with ‘ Death’
No sexual fantasy goes unpunished — or at least greatly mismanaged — in the dark Aussie comedy “The Little Death.” Writerdirector- actor Josh Lawson takes on romantic ennui, fetishism, commitment phobia, couples counseling and more with mixed results.
Alternately silly and provocative, strained and funny, the f ilm looks mainly at a quartet of suburban Sydney couples, each at a crossroads in their relationship. The unifying thread: Offbeat sexual measures are seemingly required to f ix what’s broken in each pairing.
For the unmarried Paul ( Lawson) and Maeve ( Bojana Novakovic), it’s fulfilling Maeve’s secret rape fantasy. Dan ( Damon Herriman) and wife Evie ( Kate Mulvany) get caught up in roleplaying. Rowena ( Kate Box) f inds dubious ways to make hubby Patrick ( Patrick Brammall) cry to satisfy her dacryphilia ( sobbing as a turn- on). Phil ( Alan Dukes) takes to drugging awful wife Maureen ( Lisa McCune) into slumber because he’s aroused by watching her sleep. Complications abound for each duo to varying degrees of narrative success.
A late- breaking f ifth scenario involves Monica ( Erin James), a translator for the deaf staffed at a video relay service, who must act as a go- between for the hearingimpaired Sam ( T. J. Power) and an impatient phone sex worker ( Genevieve Hegney). The vignette, worthy of its own one- act play, has far more humor and appeal than everything that comes before.
A game cast, including Kim Gyngell as a former sex offender with baking skills, goes a long way in selling Lawson’s hard- working material. Ironic use of such Top 40 throwbacks as “Brand New Key” by Melanie and “Make It With You” by Bread is a fun touch.
As for the winking title, it’s the English translation of a French idiom for “orgasm.” “The Little Death.” No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes. Playing: Sundance Sunset Cinemas, West Hollywood. Also on video on demand.