Directed by: Sarah Watt
Written by: Sarah Watt
Starring: Sacha Horler, Matt Day, Jonathan Segat, Portia Bradley, Roy Davies, Catherine Hill
Released: May 28, 2009
Grade: A-

Australian cinema has gone through highs and lows over the past decade but I can think of at least one person who is steering it on the right path. Her name is Sarah Watt. Her first feature film, Look Both Ways, was released in 2005 and was well received by almost everyone. It won the Australian Film Institute Award for best film, it received notable prizes at lucrative film festivals around the world and it featured in my top 10 list for year (just had to throw that in).

My Year Without Sex is her latest effort and it comes with the heavy burden of public expectation. I’ve already heard many people make comparisons with Look Both Ways and the general consensus is that this is film is “good… but not as good”. Whilst I’d agree with that statement, I don’t want to see any cinemagoers brushing it aside. It’s very entertaining and without question, one of the better Aussie films of the last year.

Natalie (Horler) and Ross (Day) are a married couple living in Melbourne with two children – 12-year-old Louis (Segat) and 7-year-old Ruby (Bradley). You’d call them the quintessential middle class Australian family. They go about their hectic routines on a daily basis and find just enough to time to spend together.

Everything changes when Natalie collapses and is diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. After an emergency operation and a few weeks in hospital, she returns home and is forced to adjust her lifestyle. As per the doctor’s instructions, she has to cut back on any strenuous activity until fully recovered. Yes, that includes sex.

Following this introduction, the film chronicles a year in the life of this Australian family. It is split into 12 chapters – each beginning with some funny pictures and a teasing title. There are plenty of ups and there are plenty of downs. What I liked most about the script is that doesn’t go overboard with drama – it merely presents day-to-day dilemmas that we can relate to. Many of them come with laughs.

Sacha Horler (Soft Fruit) and Matt Day (Kiss Or Kill) have been well cast in the leading roles. They come across as ordinary people – a little daggy but warm-hearted. I also liked some of the smaller details that Watt has included in the film. 12-year-old Louis is a mad keen Western Bulldogs supporter and this is clearly evident from the way he dresses and the posters in his room. Little things like this give the film a more honest, realistic feel.

It’s not easy securing the funding to make a film here in Australia but something tells me that the talented Sarah Watt will be making great movies for many years to come.