[box cover]

Better Than Sex

What happens when an innocent one-night stand turns into a three-day fling? That's the question raised by writer-director Jonathan Teplitzky in the Australian comedy Better Than Sex (2000). When vacationing Josh (David Wenham) meets Cin (Susie Porter) at a party, the two wind up back at her place slapping nasties 'til dawn. Neither is expecting anything to grow from their little tryst, especially since Josh is leaving the country in three days. But as Josh and Cin spend most of their time in bed, with the occasional superficial conversation thrown in for good measure, they quickly mistake sexual compatibility and reasonable conversation skills for love. Soon, what was meant to be a no-strings-attached liaison quickly evolves into something more complex as the two begin to develop "feelings" for each other. Both smart and funny, Better Than Sex is a romantic comedy sans the romance that dares to show something we all know to be true: Many relationships are built on the foundation of really hot action in the sack and not stimulating conversation. And speaking of sex, there's more to be found here than in a Zalman King production (the acting and script are better as well). Where most films tend to gloss over the one thing that brings (and keeps) many people together, Teplitzky's film basks in it. The script is frank in its discussion of sex, and thanks to voice-over narration from both Josh and Cin, little is left to the imagination. However, it's interesting to note that, despite the gratuitous language and sexual content, one crucial bit of dialogue where Cin expresses the desire to be done from behind was cut from the original Australian version (apparently, a woman wanting to get it doggy-style is to risqué for American audiences). Wenham and Porter spend most of the film in various stages of undress, and while both are easy on the eyes, Teplitzky has wisely cast actors who look like real people, as opposed to the artificial looking drones that dry hump through episodes of "Red Shoes Diaries." Both actors give solid performances (not an easy thing to do when most of the time is spent boffing), and before the final reel the relationship that is developing between them becomes convincing. Better Than Sex plays out like a Gen-X version of Last Tango in Paris — only not as boring or pretentious. It may not be the most realistic portrayal of contemporary relationships, but it certainly comes closer than the schlock Hollywood offers up as romantic fare (can you say Alex & Emma or Gigli?). It is refreshing to see a film that has the balls to admit how important sex really is, while managing to do it in a way that is funny, irreverent, and loin-throbbingly hot. Columbia TriStar's DVD release features a clean anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Theatrical trailer, keep-case.
—David Walker

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