Trigger warning: Rape fantasy, sex offenders.
Josh Lawson pulls off just the right balance of fun and cringe-inducing in The Little Death. The name comes from the French phrase le petite morte, a euphemism for orgasm, which should give you an idea of where this film is heading. It follows five different couples, narrowing in on their different sexual fetishes. It should be noted, though, this is not a sexy film. No need for tissues.
The film starts straight off with a humorous look at Paul’s (Lawson) foot fetish. It doesn’t take long until it dives straight into its most sensitive topic, his girlfriend Meave’s (Novakovic) rape fantasy. From here we see a woman who realises she is aroused when her husband cries, a man who is attracted to his wife while she sleeps, a speech impaired twenty-something who gets a kick out of obscure video calls and a hearing impaired phone assistant who translates his sex calls for him. And then there’s the new guy, Steve. He’s a registered sex offender. The humour constantly hovers between othering these sexual fetishes and revealing the importance of acknowledging them, as the obscure and often cringe-worthy situations the characters get themselves into are results of a lack of communication.
If you laugh at things like The Office, then this is the film for you. Though more lighthearted than the aforementioned, The Little Death is still very dark and draws on the classic bleak and deadpan humour of Australian comedy. It manages to pull off its intensely awkward moments, trigger-material discussions and graphic scenes by creating likeable and kind-hearted characters that, towards the end of the film, manage to break through the weirdness and become heart-warming. There are strong performances from all the cast, and a definite sense of chemistry between a few.
From teeth-gritting to heart-warming, the film finds its soul in the relationships between characters more than the situations that ensue. All in all, it is a fun ride and definitely worth a watch.
WORDS BY CAMERON MANION