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Australia 2000
Directed by
Jonathan Teplitzky
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars

Better Than Sex

This debut feature by writer/director Jonathan Teplitzky was critically well-received and did reasonable box-office as well as garnering considerable overseas sales. This is due more to its superficial hipness (and having 'sex' in the title probably helped) than any substantive merit. In fact if you're any sort of romantic this is likely to be a major turn-off.

The idea is evidently a depiction of the sexual experience of Teplitzky's own condom-carrying generation of high disposable-income singles. The two central characters, Josh (David Wenham), a freelance wild-life photographer, and Cyn (Suzie Porter) a former dress-designer who lives in a inner Sydney (Wolloomoloo by the looks of it) warehouse apartment suitably decorated with industrial antiques, are emblematic of their peers, a good-looking crew of males and females who appear throughout in the film's 'documentary'-style cutaways, discussing blow-jobs and fucking.

Teplitzky is evidently a skilled director in a commercial manner and is ably assisted by the cinematography of Garry Phillips but as a writer, no, this is a job he should have handed to someone else, his script being the equivalent of something one would read in the weekend's newspaper supplement. And for all its self-preening candour(and Teplitzky also won praise for his understanding of women's sexuality), like those journalistic essays, it is illustrative of a phenomenon rather than being part of it (Porter in particular has trouble in this respect when she is called upon to demonstrate her character's emotional ebb and flow). Not only we do have the Greek chorus of friends talking about relationships, we get Cyn and Josh alone, talking to the camera about their relationship. All this (supposedly spontaneous) verbalizing may have worked well in a theatrical context but as a film it's contrived and deadly dull, the form only emphasising the dreariness of the content.

And  why didn't anyone ever ask exactly who might want to watch Suzie Porter and David Wenham pretend to have sex?




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