As his directorial debut The Little Death arrives in cinemas, the Australian star gets down and dirty with the movies that inspired him to make a raunchy comedy.
Stephen A. Russell

24 Sep 2014 - 4:37 PM  UPDATED 24 Feb 2015 - 10:29 AM

Any Questions For Ben? star Josh Lawson takes to both sides of the camera in his writing/directing debut The Little Death, a risqué sexual comedy exploring the taboos that play out behind suburban doors, taking its name from the French colloquialism for orgasm.

Lawson also stars alongside Bojana Novakovic in one of several vignettes exploring the sexual fantasies most of us keep firmly buttoned up. They play a young couple in a committed relationship whose bedroom antics suddenly become a whole lot more complex when Novakovic’s character Maeve reveals she has a rape fantasy.

Other out-there scenarios include Kate Mulvaney and Damon Herriman in a fetish role-play segue, a surreal turn from Kate Box as a woman who gets off on her partner (Patrick Brammal) crying, which sees her going to great lengths to get him teary, and a creepy cameo from Kim Gyngell as a sex offender with a knack for using racism as a diversion tactic.

Lawson hit upon the idea at a dinner party six years ago when polite conversation turned rapidly to secret fetishes and the concept for The Little Death arrived. “It was the sort of funny, dark, adult material that I don’t see in Australian films often enough, and I had the feeling it could really make a splash,” he says.

While Australian films often struggle to get bums on seats, Lawson’s confident The Little Death will stand out from the crowd. “A lot of them deal with crime and violence, despair, disaster and brutality. I think that whether Australians consciously realise it or not, they’re craving something different. Of course, if no one goes and sees my movie then it’s clear I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about and I should just shut my big mouth.”

1. Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Know About Sex * But Were Afraid To Ask (1972)

I’m a mad Woody Allen fan. I adore him. And Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Know About Sex was definitely an influence on this film. You need only look at the Gene Wilder/sheep story to see Woody at his best. And Gene Wilder is phenomenal.


2. Some Like It Hot (1959)

Billy Wilder is one of my all time favorite writer/directors. His comic set pieces are 50 years old and still hold up today. Some Like It Hot has all the elements: comic sequences, high stakes, sparkling dialogue, strong characters and great acting. What more do you want?


3. 10 (1979)

Blake Edwards is often overlooked as one of the great comedy directors. I really love his stuff. It doesn’t always work, but it’s always pretty brave. I loved 10 because I felt like it was the most human of Edwards’ material. It was funny because of how tragic Dudley Moore’s character is in it. I really dig it when comedy can come out of sadness.


4. American Pie (1999)

The only reason I put American Pie in here is that when it first came out, and I was watching it in a packed cinema, I had never in my life heard so much laughter. You could barely hear the movie. It was riotous. By today’s standards it’s kind of tame, but you have to remember at the time it was pretty bold. That movie really found its audience from the start and didn’t let up until the credits.


5. Sideways (2004)

I’m not sure you could call Sideways raunchy, but I love its exploration of sex and masculinity. It didn’t have lots of laugh out loud moments for me, but I still consider this a comedy, and a great one at that. This is a great example of how far you can take a film if your characters are strong. Alexander Payne knows how to really get the most of out his characters, and his comedy is always so subtle and nuanced.

The Little Death is in cinemas now.