Trigger warnings abound in Josh Lawson’s frank, taboo-breaking but surprisingly sweet directorial debut as he charts the ups and downs of the love lives of a select group of suburban couples.
The five loosely interwoven stories are played for laughs but aren’t afraid to go to some dark and potentially upsetting places as they explore the character’s individual fetishes and the repercussions of sharing them with their loved ones. Nothing is off limits as the couples explore everything from role play to rape fantasy and there’s even a running gag about a neighbourhood sex offender who uses latent racism to deflect questions about his past.
Despite the boundary-testing nature of its subject, the film maintains an admirably light touch, providing not only laugh-out-loud moments but also real poignancy and pathos. The performances are good throughout, with Bojana Novakovic particularly standing out as a sign language translator interpreting a call to a sex line – the one vignette that could easily be spun out into a whole romantic comedy on its own. There’s an ordinary authenticity to the couples in the movies; they’re people who could easily be your friends or neighbours. After all, who knows what goes on behind closed doors?
Genuinely funny, with a lo-fi, indie sensibility, “The Little Death” (known as the gratuitously unsuitable title “A Funny Kind Of Love” in the UK) relies on the blackest of humour and may not be for everyone. It teases some potentially very dark turns and there aren’t – if you’ll excuse the expression – happy endings for everyone. Kinky, quirky, awkward and brave, it’s a likeably fresh and honest comedy about sex and relationships.