The End of Sex Review
The End of Sex, a Canadian comedy from director Sean Garrity that played last fall at the Toronto International Film Festival, covers the well-worn topic of what happens when things fizzle in the bedroom for a couple that’s been together for a long.
It’s a topic that came up a lot as a movie plot in the first decade of this century, in a series of Hollywood comedies (This is 40, Hall Pass, Sex Tape, and others) that were either directed by, produced by, or inspired by the work of the then-ascendent Judd Apatow. They were the sort of films that were all about raunch, dirty talk, and bodily fluids, but ultimately landed on the notion that the central couple – especially the male half – will mature, learn, and become strengthened as a monogamous couple.
The End of Sex, by director Sean Garrity, does all of that but takes things much further. And while it’s charming, and both leads are very appealing, the film offers a lot more in the way of cringe-laughs than actual laugh-out-loud funny laughs.
Jonas Chernick, who also wrote the screenplay, stars as Josh, while Emily Hampshire (from Schitt’s Creek) is his wife Emma (who, when wearing glasses, looks a lot like New York Times writer and CNN commentator Maggie Haberman.) They’re a 40-ish professional couple that’s been together since college, with two young daughters.
Once their kids go away to camp for a week, they decide to try to recapture their sex life, and when it doesn’t work the old-fashioned way, the two turn to more extraordinary measures, including threesomes, Ecstasy use, a trip to a sex club, and hints at outside crushes and affairs. Going to a therapist would probably make more sense as a solution while making for a more boring movie.
Things go a bit further and more risque than one might expect from a similar Hollywood film with movie stars, but it’s also firmly set in the present moment. For one thing, It’s in a world where everyone overshares severely. Gen Z, I can understand, but I hadn’t been aware that most married 40-year-olds these days were in the habit of sharing every last detail about their sex lives with their coworkers.
I found myself rooting for the couple, despite all the messiness, which I suppose is a sign that the movie is working. The supporting cast is also very strong. Melanie Scrofano — Mrs. McMurray from Letterkenny! — has a fantastic supporting role as Emily’s best friend, who I can confidentially say is given a lot more to do than best friend characters typically are in this type of comedy.
Colin Mochrie, from the old Whose Line is It Anyway shows up as Emma’s father, whose center stage in the film’s funniest, most awkward scene. And Lily Gao has some fine scenes as Josh’s coworker, who’s both of a different generation and seemingly on a different planet.
That Apatow-style marital sex comedy has fallen somewhat out of fashion in Hollywood in the last ten years or so, but it appears to still have purchase North of the border, albeit in something of a different style.