The title refers to the 19th Century euphuism for “orgasm”, originating from the French phrase, “le petit morte”. And there’s a distinct streak of dark humour running through this utterly delightful and risqué Aussie comedy of manners (or is that errors?) from 2014, written and directed by Josh Lawson, who also happens to play one of the ensemble cast.
It’s all about relationships and the sexual wants, needs, dreams, desires, fantasies, and fetishes that get caught up in the spokes as we roll along through the gauntlet of love’s kind and cruel passage. But there is much laughter to be had, despite the injuries sustained, emotional and psychological, even physical.
We have several couples, living on the same street, their stories interweaving, coming more closely entwined along the way. There’s Dan (Damon Herriman) and Evie (Kate Mulvany), who begin role-playing in an attempt to reinvigorate their sex lives, but Dan gets the actor’s bug. There’s Paul (Josh Lawson) and Maeve (BojanaNovakovic), who become victims of their own ambition, when Maeve asks Paul to initiate her rape fantasy.
There’s Rowena (Kate Box), who gets turned on whenever her lover Richard (Patrick Brammall) cries, but can’t bring herself to disclose her strange arousal.
There’s Phil (Alan Dukes), who gets horny when he watches his wife Maureen (Lisa McCune) sleep. There’ll be tears before bedtime.
And there’s Monica (Erin James), working as a sign language relay operator at a call centre for the deaf who receives an unexpected “date” with client, Sam (T. J. Power) after he requests a sexline call out. Oh, and finally, there’s the new neighbor, Steve (Kim Gyngell), who is going door to door giving away Golliwog biscuits and making the official statement that he is a registered sex offender.
What begins as a fairly ordinary sex comedy soon picks up steam and develops into many genuinely hilarious situations as each of the couples come to terms with their sexual predicaments. There is some cracking dialogue and beautifully handled cringe moments that are far less awkward than what one anticipates. Thanks to Josh Lawson’s measured writing and the superb performances from the whole cast, The Little Death is easily the best “rom-com” from down under in many years.
It’s hard to single out the funniest of the fetishes, all of which are individually highlighted at the start of the movie. We really are a peculiar, but ultimately endearing race of creatures, and The Little Death proves just how expertly our intimacy foibles can be expressed under the guise of a comedy, albeit one with a suitably black sting in its tail.
–The Little Death film review written by Bryn Tilly of cultprojections.com