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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 19.77%
Just Average: 6.98%
Pretty Crappy: 16.28%
Sucks: 5.81%

4 reviews, 62 user ratings

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Better Than Sex
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by Mark Freeman

"Sex is Better Than Better Than Sex"
2 stars

Imagine somebody making a movie of an issue of Cleo or Cosmopolitan and you'll come close to Teplitsky's wearisome new film Better Than Sex. It subscribes to a tedious current trend in Australian film which involves people in confined spaces - a bedroom, a loungeroom, a backyard - talking endlessly, intimately, and inanely about sex: wanting it, getting it, doing it and enjoying it.

Whilst John Curran's recent film Praise managed to concentrate on the sex lives of its protagonists for much of the film, it also managed a depth of character, a complexity that others in this emergent sub-genre seem to lack. There's a strong sense of immaturity in these films, as if suddenly our filmmakers have become thirteen year olds peeking into the imagined lives of grown ups. The rebellious sibling to this attitude is a strong desire to shock, to discuss intimacies rendered taboo, so Better Than Sex, like Daniel Nettheim's Angst spends half its time working the word 'clitoris' into conversation or tackling discussions on oral sex and ejaculation. What it means is that Teplitsky's film becomes tedious, mundane and not even remotely controversial. It tries hard to be frank and insightful in its discussions of sex, but ends up just sounding like a list of topics in the Cosmopolitan archive.

The room that imprisons our two sexual gymnasts is, of course, the bedroom, in the home of Cynthia (Susie Porter). After a party, she and potential shag Joshua (David Wenham) return to her place for a spot of horizontal folk-dancing. It's no surprise that the two slowly develop a relationship beyond the sex, although the sex features fairly heavily in the first forty-eight hours. What we're left with is a question of how long it will take them before they realise they can't live without each other. And when they're not having sex, Cynthia and Joshua talk about sex, long involved, ultimately flaccid conversations on every angle, element and position. So we get the oral sex discussions, the commitment discussions, the pick up discussions. This is then followed by such fascinatingly original topics such as: How many people have you slept with, when did you first do it, do you like it when I do this or that? You can't help but see the Cosmo headlines in every scene: What happens when the one night stand doesn't leave? The best oral sex ever! Should you swallow? Why your man won't put the toilet seat down. It's a wonder Teplitzky doesn't insert Dolly Doctor or a sealed section into the film to complete the image.

Better than Sex offers a couple of Australia's finest actors in David Wenham and Susie Porter the chance to display their talents (in both a literal and figurative sense), but the script is so uninspired that they really have to labour for too much of this film. They milk some good lines for all their worth, and they certainly ensure that the characters become quite endearing, likeable people by the film's conclusion. But too often the direction and script lead them astray. Montage sequences are the standard cliché of aimless walking, downcast eyes and a popular ballad playing in the background - essentially a music clip. Teplitsky employs a direct to camera device which soon proves a burden. What begins as a sort of Greek chorus of friends commenting on, advising, and reacting to the action becomes an irritation all too quickly as it descends into a fairly uninspired he says she says dichotomy. It's played for laughs, but becomes simplistic and absurd, detracting from the film rather than adding anything of significance. As well as the direct to camera address by Cynthia and Joshua and their respective friends, Teplitsky also makes us endure each character's inner monologue before, during and after the deed. The monotonous narration of each participant having sex is enough to shut down your desire for life - it's like a soliloquy from a porn film, complete with the oohs and ahhs, the grunts and moans, to the left a bit, to the right a bit - you get the idea. Again, nothing of significance is achieved by this tactic, although it does create a couple of opportunities for some cheap laughs. It's a pity that the laughs in this film are so cheap, the script so facile, because with a little further work, and a few alternate decisions, Better Than Sex could have been a much better film.

Teplitsky's direction stumbles over these structural decisions, and never really recovers. That said, the camera work and lighting in Better Than Sex are exemplary. Slow, silent zooms are an effective lead into both characters, far more revealing and intimate than the inane dialogue they have to utter when they speak. The streaming light bathes Wenham and Porter in luxurious golds and browns, and this is the closest this film comes to any sort of eroticism or true sensuality. The space they occupy is vast, warm, and generous, and Teplitsky uses it well, utilising light, angle, shadow and obstruction to develop the intimacy of the room. Teplitsky is not untalented - more than anything, though, his own screenplay prevents his direction from truly flourishing as it should. This film may well suffer from the plague of the writer/director; the lack of objectivity over the script prevents a more critical appraisal of what works and what doesn't. Teplitsky is too close to these characters he has created, and can't step back to detect when they utter a false note. So whilst Better Than Sex does offer some pleasures - the performances of the leads, some interesting camerawork, some amusing episodes - it doesn't achieve its main objectives.

Setting out to analyse love, sex and the whole damn thing, as well as exploring issues of gender, commitment and eroticism, Better Than Sex comes up with nothing you haven't read or heard before. It manages to be diverting and sporadically amusing, but fails to achieve its lofty goals. There are indeed a few things that are better than sex. Unfortunately Better Than Sex is not one of them.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=4446&reviewer=243
originally posted: 12/16/00 09:12:10
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User Comments

1/05/07 Mark I really kiked it 4 stars
7/03/05 Linda Better than sex! 5 stars
5/19/05 ABomb Worse than you can imagine 1 stars
1/13/05 Lance Lets have more nude freckly people in bright sunlight! 1 stars
2/28/04 Sadie Not too deep, just a really fun movie 5 stars
12/13/03 treats maree the movie isn't really about anything. cath mcclements is awesome, gives the movie an edge 3 stars
4/23/02 tony they got into their characters well 4 stars
4/03/02 basheer saudi 5 stars
3/20/02 melody rary 4 stars
2/17/02 Peter Pak Very intelligent Australian production - makes me a big Susie Porter fan 5 stars
10/31/01 willy fecking shweet... try and get the uncut version tho 5 stars
10/22/01 Boomshanka A little disappointing. Love both the leads, but too 'cute' 3 stars
10/21/01 alif i like to fucking someone 5 stars
10/19/01 t.ryan average just average 3 stars
10/02/01 Andrew Anyone who claims this is a yawn has completely missed the point 5 stars
9/11/01 asd y 5 stars
8/05/01 klara gourault i like the intimacy, pretty rare in the screen, actors are great 5 stars
7/19/01 abdulrhman asdsad 5 stars
5/21/01 Desirey its was the bomb and enjoy it so much! makes me want to go to the loo 5 stars
4/01/01 Kate n Lizzie Love David's uh...work 5 stars
3/01/01 Darren cute 3 stars
1/06/01 Neil Cammack Might excite the latte set but immature, gauche and succeeds in making sex a big yawn. 2 stars
1/01/01 razi narazi 5 stars
12/31/00 razi narazi 5 stars
12/31/00 qlm sex 4 stars
12/22/00 billy bob totally mad man 5 stars
12/21/00 jack sexmovies 2 stars
12/08/00 jimmy baby it was hot 5 stars
12/03/00 Michelle Rossa Retsores faith in the idea of romance in a stylish, sexy and fun way. Loved it. 5 stars
12/02/00 Francesca we've all been there..simple and witty script! script! 5 stars
12/02/00 Paul Corcoran Cute, funny, falls flat in it's face. Worth a look. Don't reccomend it. 3 stars
11/30/00 ron tritton refreshing different &worth seeing again!! 4 stars
11/25/00 Gigi very funny and realistic 5 stars
11/22/00 Bob Rona Fantasic!! 5 stars
11/17/00 Jane Ferguson fabulous acting by both David and Susie, great story, funny, sexy, very relevant 5 stars
11/14/00 Diane Nails it (so to speak) 5 stars
11/13/00 lil hood excellent movie 5 stars
11/12/00 Masa-Aki N. Emesiochl Great 5 stars
11/10/00 Franko Clever comedy - great story - true to life! 5 stars
11/10/00 joshi ponna i loved this movie 5 stars
11/09/00 PaulJam Wait for the Video 4 stars
11/09/00 anne borish, obvious, annoying, predictable and irritating 1 stars
11/04/00 Belinda Very funny - great acting. 5 stars
11/03/00 david renton it was sexy 5 stars
10/31/00 peter tow a sexy 90 mins with many laughs + many points of recognition 5 stars
10/29/00 bubbles 5 stars!! 5 stars
10/24/00 yazan tv 5 stars
10/24/00 VANI 88 5 stars
10/21/00 peter hayes sex 4 stars
10/21/00 shawn bad 1 stars
10/15/00 archie not much passion 1 stars
10/12/00 dharmawan good 4 stars
10/11/00 dgrwt hgood 5 stars
10/11/00 jespid no comment 5 stars
10/05/00 salleh ok 3 stars
10/01/00 Marcey This movie is great, smart and funny! 5 stars
9/22/00 Marcus Great film; clever and funny 5 stars
9/18/00 KATHY WOW 4 stars
9/10/00 Kookaburra Good date film, women will love. 4 stars
9/08/00 neil bartlett lust, lust and good humor 4 stars
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  26-Oct-2001 (NR)
  DVD: 29-Jul-2003


  09-Nov-2000 (M)

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