Published Sep 06, 2014Translated into English as "the little death," the French euphemism "la petite mort" refers to the blissed-out, semi-conscious state one experiences after climaxing. For such a strange phrase, it's the perfect title for Australian director Josh Lawson's first-time feature.
An ensemble comedy from down under, The Little Death peers behind the curtains of a few suburban young professionals (and one registered sex offender) and delves into the hilarity that is their hidden sexual desires.
Not for the faint of heart, The Little Death is frank in its portrayal of human sexuality. As the movie begins, we meet Maeve (Bojana Novakovic) and Paul (played by Lawson himself), a couple coming to terms with their fantasies (for Paul, sucking on his wife's toes; for Maeve, being "raped" by Paul when she least expects it). Things only get wilder from there, as we are further introduced to sexually active Australians with a penchant for calling sex lines with sign language interpreters, watching their partners cry and watching them sleep, as well as one couple who takes the idea of role-playing just a bit too far (a standout sequence starring Justified's Damon Herriman, who plays an inadequate husband who realizes he'd rather perform on stage than on camera in the bedroom).
Although there is nothing particularly graphic about the film (the language is rather tame by today's comedy standards, and there are no real scenes of nudity), The Little Death is nevertheless a jarring watch. It's hard to think of a comedy that shows couples discussing their secret desires in such an intimate and honest way (save for Young People Fucking, which employed the same subject matter and splits in screen time to more tepid results). However, the strength of the movie lies in its ability to focus on the guilt and inadequacy our society generally experiences as a result of our personal preferences in the boudoir (or living room, or parking garage, or wherever it may be).
It's that pervasive theme hidden beneath each of the film's laugh-out-loud moments that will ultimately resonate with viewers, no matter how experienced they are at getting what they want in the bedroom.