May 18, 2015 The Little Death (Movie Review)
Australian writer/actor/director Josh Lawson has shown he is a force to be reckoned with in the movie industry. American viewers would recognize him from his appearance in films such as The Campaign (2012) and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013). Having written and starred in a combination of television and movies, Lawson again jumps genres with the release of award- winning Dark Comedy/Thriller The Little Death. Filmed in Sydney, Australia, it is set for release in the United States June 26th via Magnolia Pictures. The term ‘Little Death’ translates to La Petite Mort in French, which comes from a nineteenth Century euphemism for an orgasm. It relates to the belief that when a person has an orgasm, it is likened to a “near”death experience. Interestingly, the focus of The Little Death is the pursuit of the orgasm, taboo sexual fetishes, how pleasure and pain are closely connected and how lack of communication can prove deadly between partners.
Starting with Dan (Damon Herriman: House of Wax 2005, The Lone Ranger 2013), who is married to Evie (Kate Mulvany: Griff the Invisible 2010, The Great Gatsby 2013), they are at couples counselling due to their lackluster sex life. The counselor suggests they undertake role play to spice up the relationship again. The couple give it some thought and successfully try it out, awakening in the pair the fetish of role play – or being sexually aroused by playing games. As the couple rediscover each other, Dan also finds he is more into the acting aspect than his marriage.
Maeve (Bojana Novakovic: Drag Me To Hell 2009, Devil 2010) and Paul (Lawson) have been together for five years, and are yet to marry. Maeve reveals to Paul that she has a rape fetish/fantasy (Sado-masochism) which initially concerns Paul but after researching the subject matter more, he decides to do what he can to comply. Despite his lack of understanding, Paul tries to please Maeve but fails every step of the way.
There is then the story of Richard (Patrick Brammall: Griff the Invisible 2010, Shock 2010) and Rowena (Kate Box: The Black Balloon 2008, Rake 2010) who have been married for years and trying unsuccessfully for a child. Rowena is unsatisfied with her sexual relationship with Richard, who is oblivious to her plight. When Richard’s father suddenly dies, Rowena discovers she has a Dacryphilia fetish, or is sexually aroused by seeing someone cry. This becomes very complicated and pushes Rowena to do some unspeakable things just to make Richard cry.
In another situation Monica (Erin James) is a telephone relay worker who is also deaf. The center receives calls from deaf individuals and they translate necessary phone calls via webcam for that person. In this instance a man named Sam (T.J. Power: Eat Pray Love 2010, The Sapphires 2012) has called and wants a conversation with an adult sex line which provides a hilarious telephone discussion. The fetish telephone scatalogia – obscene phone calls to strangers – is the one fetish that provides some lighter moments within the often bleak film.
Finally there is Phil (Alan Dukes: Beneath Hill 60 2010, Stuffed 2014) and Maureen (Lisa McClune: Blue Heeler 1994, Little Fish 2005) have children and are married for years. Maureen regularly berates and abuses Phil and neither of them are happy in the marriage. Phil also has insomnia and his boss gives him sleeping pills as it is affecting his work when he falls asleep on his desk. Rather than using them for himself, he opts to give them to his wife and knocks her out. He finds out he has a Somnophilia fetish, and is sexually aroused by someone in deep sleep. This reveals a whole strange side of Paul who begins his own strange relationship with his wife.
Mingled among these troubled relationships is the arrival of new neighbor, Steve (Kim Gyngall: Full Frontal 1993, The Hard Word 2002), a registered sex offender required by Federal Law to reveal his status to his neighbors, with a penchant for baking racist cookies. Scene by scene the couple’s worlds mix, and the truth is stranger than fiction. Lack of communication between the pairings creates some interesting, humorous, and troubling situations revealing dark and hidden aspects of their personalities.
The Little Death has a constant pace with plenty of twists and turns, with both amusing and creepy scenes. The complex plot may have some viewers scratching their heads upon its conclusion, but is worth the challenge of the senses. A strange but compelling little jaunt into intimate adult relationships with often disastrous consequences, The Little Death is well worth a watch so be on the look out when it is released June 26th. CrypticRock gives this movie 4 out of 5 stars.