(director/writer: Josh Lawson; cinematographer: Simon Chapman; editor: Christian Gazal; music: Michael Yezerski; cast: Bojana Novakovic (Maeve), Damon Herriman (Dan), Ben Lawson(Glenn), Josh Lawson (Paul), Erin James (Monica), Alan Dukes (Phil), Lisa McCune (Maureen), Kate Box (Rowena), Patrick Brammall (Richard), Paul Gleeson (Therapist), Zoe Carides (Dr. Barnes), Kim Gyngell (Steve), Lachy Hulme (Kim), T.J. Power (Sam), Genevieve Hegney (Sonya, Phone-sex operator); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Jamie Hilton/Michael Petroni/Matt Reeder; Magnolia Pictures; 2014-Australia)

It’s both edgy and warm-hearted, as it depicts the secret lives of five suburban couples who live in Sydney.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A genial off-beat romantic comedy about sex, love, fetishes and relationships that’s smartly written and directed by Aussie filmmaker Josh Lawson, in his debut feature. It’s both edgy and warm-hearted, as it depicts the secret lives of five middle-class attractive suburban couples who live in Sydney. The narrative explores how a long list of sexual fetishes among all the couples have comical repercussions when shared by the group.

For openers we witness Josh Lawson’s tongue and mouth wrapping itself around Bojana Novakovic’s toes – as foreplay. Bojana has confided in him her desire to be raped, which leads to further farce between them. Things turn on the close-knit neighbor couples, who all desire greater sexual freedoms in their life. Besides the five couples observed, a convicted sex offender (Kim Gyngell), roams the neighborhood selling odd items and providing a creepy presence. Kate Mulvany and Damon Herriman follow their therapist’s suggestion and do role-playing. Alan Dukes and Lisa McCune find things are best sexually when hubby gets off on his cold wife, who warms up when asleep. Kate Box and Patrick Brammall have a robotic clinical relationship, as romance is sparked for her only when hubby tears up. They want more than anything else to have a child. The fifth couple, Erin James and TJ Power, have just met. The future hubby called her to translate a chat with a phone-sex operator (Genevieve Hegney). You see the future wife works as a translator of phone calls for the deaf.

The film’s title is a translation of the French phrase la petite mort, which is a slang way for saying orgasm.

The slight story only goes so far before it gets tiresome and repetitive. But while it’s hot, there are more than a few laughs and it never forgets trying to be a smart comedy.