Do you have enough sex? Is this the right kind of sex? Is it as good as the sex of your neighbors or the people across the street? We live in a society obsessed with these issues and steeped in sexual imagery, but in which there are relatively few honest conversations about the place of sex in our real-world lives. One of the few formats in which this can be approached is comedy, and Sean Garrity’s latest contribution to the Toronto International Film Festival lineup tells a story that viewers from many different walks of life will identify with.
Josh (screenwriter Jonas Chernick) and Emma (Emily Hampshire, who starred opposite Chernick in another Garrity sex comedy ten years prior) are a couple in their early 50s who watch their children go on vacation without them for the first times, for a winter camp . Josh is distraught despite the girls’ cheerful confidence, but he and Emma look forward to some alone time together. They can do whatever they want, they remember. They can have sex in any room of the house. No matter how loud they make. Only somehow – for no easily discernible reason – it just doesn’t work.
The truth is that despite what we like to tell ourselves about them, most long-term relationships reach a point, sooner or later, when sexual passion wanes. That doesn’t necessarily mean the love has faded, and indeed, Josh and Emma remain affectionate and deeply invested in their relationship — so much so that they’ll do anything to try to regain that passion. Thus begins a series of adventures involving a threesome, a flirtation with an old flame, a visit to a sex club and a lot of angst.
The sex they have is like that mango chicken stir-fry Emma makes. Josh explains. He doesn’t like it but he eats it because it’s part of the deal. She doesn’t take it badly – she seems to say – but it still seems like a good idea to try to add a little spice. The problem is that even with carefully chosen ingredients, it’s hard to come up with the perfect recipe. Which might sound exciting because fantasy doesn’t always work that way in real life, and Josh and Emma have to individually figure out what they actually want before they can work on it together.
While the central characters are both endearing and hopeful for the best for them, what gives the film its magic is the attention paid to the secondary characters, who feel like full human beings rather than as simple accessories for the journey of the protagonists. of discovery. Melanie Scrofano brings humanity to the often thankless role of the bisexual friend with a crush on the heroine, with her subplot also emphasizing the importance of friendship. Gray Powell is rather sweetly bamboozled as Emma’s ex-gallerist, who has enough of a sense of humor to deal with her creepiest and not take it too badly. Then there’s Lily Gao, who shines as a sexually confident and socially ruthless co-worker determined to help Josh pull himself together no matter what it takes. The age gap in the latter case also helps to explore the evolution of social attitudes and the central couple’s progressive realization that they have changed since the days when sex was at the center of their lives.
As with most successful sex comedies, the key to this movie is that it’s not really the sex that’s the problem, but rather the weight of other concerns – about self-esteem, social status and aging – associated with it. The production design team had a lot of fun pretending otherwise, with an art exhibit full of giant black-and-white photographs of testicles, a very suggestive commercial featuring bananas, and more. The silliness of it all is carefully balanced with the very real sense of panic as two people in love gradually become more convinced that their relationship is falling apart – and with the days that pass until the kids come home. house, they do not have long to find a solution.
Heartfelt, funny and human, The End Of Sex might not be something you want to contemplate for too long, but it’s a great watch.
Reviewed on: Sep 14, 2022