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New Release Review - A FUNNY KIND OF LOVE

The stories of five couples and their disparate sex lives.


Review by Ren Zelen

Directed by: Josh Lawson

Starring: Bojana Novakovic, Kate Box, Patrick Brammall, Josh Lawson, Damon Herriman, Kate Mulvany, Erin James, T.J. Power, Alan Dukes, Lisa McCune, Kym Gyngell



"A Funny Kind of Love sometimes pushes sexual urges to the point of ridiculousness, but does so gently and with its tongue firmly in cheek."



Sexual desire is a funny old thing – it can be rather elusive and very much an individual inclination. Sometimes it‘s funny ‘ha,ha’ and sometimes it can be funny ‘peculiar’, and sometimes both.   Actor\director Josh Lawson’s debut feature, A Funny Kind of Love asks some intimate questions – What might it be that gives us that moment of sexual ecstasy we all crave? How far will we go to get it? How do we deal with the consequences?
His movie is a multi-story narrative which might loosely be termed a ‘sex-comedy’. It concerns five different couples with rather singular erotic fetishes, and examines how these proclivities affect their relationships. The stories are introduced one by one, then slowly start to link loosely together. We are presented with sexual role-playing games which get out of hand (but not in the sexual sense) and we get to know the terms 'dacryphilia' 'somnophilia' and ‘telephone scatalogia’ (and add them to our sexual vocabulary). We also witness the challenges of calling a telephone sex-line when we can only understand sign language.
In the hands of the current practitioners in Hollywood who purport to make ‘adult-oriented’ comedies,  this subject matter could all too easily degenerate into a prurient sniggering at all things sexual with the  additional stipulation that the sex is portrayed as ribald and raunchy. What is refreshing about Lawson’s feature is that it actually deals with the awkward aspects of erotic arousal, as well as about embarrassment, misunderstanding and miscommunication. A Funny Kind of Love isn’t a comedy mocking people’s sex lives; it’s a film about navigating the perilous waters of sex and relationships.  
Lawson presents his characters as fully realised, 'regular' people, who happen to have an unexpected sexual response to certain situations. Much of the humour comes from the disconnection between the veneer of their humdrum suburban lives and the unconventional desires they are attempting to hide – pretty much like any ordinary neighbourhood really. It must be said, that there are points when the movie seems to imagine that it is funnier than it actually is, and there are certainly moments when it gets a little jarring.
I approach any sex-comedy that uses the prefix “dark” with suspicion, as it usually suggests that it is destined to present some questionable or ‘controversial’ views. Any film that makes light of sexual violence always sends up red flags with me, and this movie is no exception. Maeve (Bojana Novakovic), confesses to her boyfriend Paul (Josh Lawson) that she has a ‘rape’ fantasy, and the film takes some pains to make light of this and stress that ‘rape’ is a common female fantasy. I beg to differ; it is a popular male misconception that this is a common female sex-fantasy (what Maeve is actually asking for is role-playing rough sex in a safe environment with a man she trusts, where she can fantasize that he is a stranger).
In one of the other stories, there is something slightly discomfiting about a henpecked man having sex with his drugged and unconscious, and thus non-consenting wife. Lastly, one of the connections between the stories is that the characters are visited by a disarmingly mild-mannered new neighbour who presents them with a gift of ‘gollywog’ biscuits, the implicit racism of which distracts them from the rather more pertinent news he is compelled to convey - that he is a registered sex offender - a piece of information that none of them seems the least bit concerned about.
Although the movie does sometimes make for disconcerting viewing, it tends to diffuse these questionable situations by making its characters benign, loveable and unthreatening. It manages to balance precariously just this side of acceptable by dealing with its subject matter with as much maturity as is possible. It also has a playful script, which integrates the characters and situations into its overarching theme. Despite the broad concept and possibly unwittingly, Lawson never quite succeeds in allowing his audience to feel casually amused.
These are, however, entertaining storylines with some charming performances, one of which concerns Rowena (Kate Box) and her husband Richard (Patrick Brammall) who have been trying for years to conceive a baby, resulting in sex becoming routine and by-the-book. When Richard is devastated by the sudden death of his father, Rowena discovers that she gets tremendously turned-on whenever he weeps. This leads to a series of situations in which she gently, but knowingly, attempts to reduce her husband to tears. She upsets him by placing out pictures of his recently deceased father, by ‘losing’ their beloved dog and by telling him she has been diagnosed with cancer. Her discovery and active pursuit of these newly gratifying sexual experiences and the orgasms that follow, result in an escalation of her fabrications and a compulsion to take it all too far.
The movie’s final segment, involves Monica (Erin James) - a hearing-impaired video-signing-translator, who makes a call to a telephone-sex line on behalf of a deaf client (T.J. Power). She is painfully embarrassed but gamely tries to sign the lewd conversation that follows. There turns out to be sweetness within the smut as both she and her caller dissolve into giggles. Their odd encounter turns out to be the most touching of the entire film. Their call ends but they have made a connection and Monica leaves work with a feeling that something good may come of it all.
Instead, something very different occurs – which sets off a series of events and closes the movie with an ending which is actually a surprise and which serves to tie up a few loose ends.
A Funny Kind of Love sometimes pushes sexual urges to the point of ridiculousness, but does so gently and with its tongue firmly in cheek. It indicates that, if we are honest about our own absurdity, we may even be able to discover some intimacy and satisfaction.



Copyright R.H. Zelen – ©RenZelen 2015 All rights reserved.


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