At the press screening of Jonathan Teplitzky’s comedy about a one-night stand that turns into a three-day love affair, the print was improperly masked, with the result that the boom microphone intruded upon virtually every other scene. Ordinarily this would be intolerable, but in this case it was a rather pleasant distraction. After all, there’s little else in “Better Than Sex” to hold one’s attention, and the boom gave the best performance.
Teplitzky’s plot, if one cares to dignify it with such a name, is absurdly threadbare. Cin (Susie Porter), a Sydney fashion designer, meets Josh (David Wenham), a photographer who lives in London but has returned to his homeland to visit with his mates, at a party. They take a cab together afterward, and she invites him up to her place for the night. In the morning he plans to leave, but can’t tear himself away, and the two wind up spending a full three days together; one can’t say that they get closer, since they’re already pretty intimate in the first hour, but they do grow more and more interested in knowing one another long-term. Their time together is interrupted only by a single visitor: catty Sam (Catherine McClements), a documentary filmmaker, who arrives to put the moves on Josh herself. But periodically we’re treated to monologues by Cin and Josh, seated on chairs against a blank backdrop, commenting upon their experience from a later perspective. These are augmented by snippets from various friends of theirs offering observations on the couple; these personages are sometimes shown gabbing amongst themselves on telephones (shades of “Bye Bye Birdie”). As if all this weren’t enough, the cabdriver (Kris McQuade) who drove the two to Cin’s apartment stays around like some sort of magical dea ex machina, jabbering about their absurd reluctance to make a commitment and encouraging them to do so.
All of this is supposed to be darling, of course, but it’s mostly a stream of flat, pedestrian or nauseatingly cute talk. While the script wants to be insightful about relationships, it generally addresses itself to such sitcom issues as why men never flush or put down the lavatory seat, or why women take two hours to primp themselves for a simple lunch out–real cutting-edge stuff. In addition to the endless verbiage, the film also contains a good deal of skin–which would be a better thing if the cinematography were a bit softer in focus. As it is, the overlit photography and oppressive use of closeups expose virtually every physical abnormality on poor Wenham and Porter. It’s not always a pleasant sight.
Other than that, the two leads are attractive and personable. It’s certainly not their fault that the script provides them with so little of interest or amusement to do and say. Some may find this frail, wispy little piece a harmless waste of ninety minutes. But most, I fear, would embrace the intrusion of the boom microphone as warmly as I did.