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Clip: The Little Death

Australian actor Josh Lawson makes his directorial debut with a dark comedy about the extraordinary sex lives of 'ordinary' people.

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Could this be the worst seduction routine ever?

Looking to spice up their love life, a married couple resorts to a little role-playing. The husband pretends to be a doctor, the wife his patient. Their living room does service as the surgery.

Josh Lawson and Bojana Novakovic look for inspiration in Lawson's "dark comedy" The Little Death.

Josh Lawson and Bojana Novakovic look for inspiration in Lawson's 'dark comedy' The Little Death.

She comes on all hot and bothered, clearly intent on seduction, but he remains resolutely matter of fact.

"I have the results of your tests here," he says, staring at the sheet of paper in front of him.

"Oh yes? Will you need to examine me further?" she replies sultrily, her mind clearly more focused on the treatment than the diagnosis.

Josh Lawson makes his directorial debut.

Josh Lawson makes his directorial debut.

"Ah, no, it's conclusive. And I'm afraid it's bad news," he says.

"Well, I have been a very bad girl."

"You have hepatitis."

"Well, that's not very sexy, is it," she says, stunned but still doing her best to keep the smoulder going.

"No it's not. Particularly not hepatitis C."

Finally, she loses it. "I'm not going to want to have sex," she tells him, "if you've just diagnosed me with an STD."

The scene is from The Little Death, the directorial debut of Australian actor Josh Lawson, which has its debut at the Sydney Film Festival before hitting cinemas more generally in September. The husband is played by Damon Herriman, the wife by Kate Mulvany.

Lawson's film is pegged as a "darkly comic look at the perverse lives of 'ordinary people'," and promises to probe "what happens to a couple when a fetish drives them into dark, unexpected and hilarious places".

Among the taboo topics on which it touches are a woman's rape fantasy and a man’s struggle to please. According to the press material for the film, there's also "a man who starts an affair with his own wife without her knowing anything about it", "a woman trying to love a man who loves himself", and "a woman who can only find pleasure in the pain of her husband".  

The film – the title of which comes from a 19th century euphemism for orgasm, originally the French "la petite Morte" – stars Lawson, Bojana Novakovic, Lisa McCune, Kim Gyngell and Lachy Hulme.

Lawson said he was "really excited" to be premiering his movie at the Sydney Film Festival.

"We shot the film here, we have a Sydney-based crew and most of our actors are Sydney-based, so it feels fitting that the world premiere is here in Sydney," he said. "We are thrilled to be included in such an impressive line-up of films."

The Little Death screens at the Sydney Film Festival on June 13 and 15.