Sex and Death 101 Daniel Waters

Sex and Death 101 Daniel Waters
For a relatively standard sex comedy, Sex and Death 101 has some clever and intriguing insights on male image in relation to sexual conquests and destiny without forgetting about the inherent relationship between sex, death and life. Statements about men valuing another man’s jealousy over his respect and feeling apathy in the game of seduction without the thrill of the hunt really hit the nail on the head of cultural signifiers and foundations. Without fancy cars and airbrushed playboy playmates what would the modern man work towards? Roderick Blank (Simon Baker) thinks he has it all: a great job, premium commodities and a foxy blonde fiancée (Julie Bowen). However, this is all put to the test when he receives an anonymous email that has a list of every woman he has ever diddled, and ever will. Meanwhile, a black widow who is referred to as Death Nell (Winona Ryder) prowls the streets killing (or more accurately, putting into a coma) misogynist men. Sex and Death isn’t entirely analytical and philosophical, as there are many sprinklings of amusing sexual antics, which involve lesbians on swings, a drive-thru girl taking an order and a naughty stripper nurse taking it from behind while reading a magazine. While it would be easy to fall into the trap of making each of these buxom gals a cipher for Roderick’s journey, Daniel Waters (Heathers) takes great care in individualising and crafting each woman that comes into his life. Particularly memorable are Leslie Bibb as a veterinarian who demonstrates compassion for inanimate objects and Frances Fisher as a lonely writer. It is clear that Waters’ strengths lie more in writing than directing, as the film suffers from pacing issues, in addition to some occasionally lethargic direction, but on the whole his vision is consistent. The DVD includes an engaging 15-minute featurette that has actor interviews, casting discussions and insights into the role of women throughout the film. A commentary track is also available. (Anchor Bay)