Is the dirty little secret about sex the fact that everyone has the same struggles?
In The End of Sex, husband Josh (Jonas Chernick, who also wrote the film) and his wife Emma (Emily Hampsire) are excited for their kids to go to sleepaway camp for a week so they can have some much needed time to themselves. But after their attempt to kickstart their marriage bed fizzles, the two find themselves lost in a sea of sexual confusion. Now, with the clock ticking before the girls come home, Josh and Emma fight to amp up their love lives but also must confront some difficult truths about their relationship in the process.
Directed by Sean Garrity, The End of Sex is a fairly fun and lighthearted comedy about marriage and midlife. While it’s not ‘uproariously funny’, the performances are solid, especially by Hampshire and Chernick. With some solid chemistry between them, one genuinely believes that this could be any married couple who have spent the last decade attempting to balance the realities of child-rearing, work and their own personal lives.
In fact, that’s what makes the film so effective.
There’s an honesty about Sex beneath the brash comedy that gives it life. Despite its outlandish scenarios for sexual revitalization, this really isn’t a film about sexuality. Although the film is certainly mature in nature, it’s not overly graphic. Sexual scenes play out comedically and usually without nudity. (Although one particular scene in a ‘sex club’ may be uncomfortable for some viewers.) Instead, End is very much a film about two people trying to rediscover themselves as a couple when the distraction of raising kids is gone.
In fact, the best part about Sex is that it’s open conversations about the ‘thing that’s hard to talk about’ are designed to feel authentic. For any parent in a long-term relationship, one can’t help but empathize with Josh and Emily as they struggle to avoid the pitfalls of divorce or marital listlessness (which is potentially worse). Putting themselves under intense pressure to ‘reignite the flame’, they find themselves repeatedly making matters worse in their relationship. Frustrated by their issues, Josh wanders out into the street and imagines how recently the strangers that he encounters have had sex. Meanwhile, feeling lost within her own life of monotony, Emma struggles with a crush for an old friend.
In this way, Sex is not so much about the end of sex as it is embracing the beginning of a new chapter of life. There’s no doubt the sexuality remains important in every marriage but Chernick’s script also acknowledges that our expectations of it need to change. Without giving any spoilers, The End of Sexunderstands that every couple in a long-term relationship goes through these issues. As such, sex doesn’t need to die—but the reasons for it may need to grow and mature with time. (What’s more, I respected the film’s finale far more than I expected that I would.)
So, no. With its wild exploits and humour, The End of Sex will not be for everyone. But neither should one assume that this isn’t a comedy that takes its conversations about sex seriously. Even in its wildest moments, there remains an honesty about the film that is somewhat refreshing, especially considering that it wants to figure out the dirty little secrets of marriage.
The same secrets we’re all trying to figure out ourselves.
The End of Sex is available in theatres on Friday, April 28th, 2023.