KIKI: LOVE TO LOVE gets 7/10 A Little Death Becomes Her

Directed by Paco León
Starring Natalia de Molina, Álex García, Paco León, Belén Cuesta

Based on the Australian film The Little Death (2014), Kiki: Love to Love is a loosely linked collection of tales about the exploration of various sexual desires. A couple seeking a way to spice up their sex life turn to a friend who works at a sex club for advice, a woman who becomes obsessed after she orgasms during an armed robbery, a successful plastic surgeon with a fetish for his sleeping wife, and a wife who discovers she is aroused by seeing her husband cry. All these allow for an insight into a curious and wonderfully sensual world happening behind closed doors in Madrid.

Strangely, the change in setting for Kiki: Love to Love seems to make the film more palatable to Australian audiences. Whether it is our expectations of European culture, a history of Spanish cinema exploring sexual themes, or an Anglo reserve about sex – who can say? However Kiki flows better than Josh Lawson’s (Becoming Bond) film. In part as it seems more relaxed in its subject matter.

This still leaves a fine line for Kiki to walk. A sex comedy that is accepting of different sexual peccadilloes, but can find the humour in the situation. No kink shaming, no alienation of any social groups, no gratuitous sexual exploitation. For the most part the film does treat its risqué subject matter with enough care, or to go so over the top as to be hilarious in its extremity. Kiki plays it right up to that line, and at times goes over it. Natalia’s harpaxophillia (arousal at the thought of being robbed) is dangerously close to rape-fantasy territory, but well handled in the overall course of the story, and a strong performance by Natalia de Molina. The older married couple, Jose (Luis Bermejo) and Palamoa’s (Mary Paz Sayago) tale of somnaphillia (“sleeping beauty” syndrome) is far more concerning. Involving as it does the drugging of a partner, and by implication, non-consensual sex. No matter how much back-peddling the script does after the fact, nothing can make that right, and it is something that is played for comedy rather than examining the darker heart of the matter. It provides an oddly sour note in what is otherwise a comedic, and somewhat sweet collection of tales.

On the whole though, Kiki provides a light comedy that is a gentle and accepting exploration of sexuality. The comedic timing of the cast is generally on point. From Candela Peña character’s Machiavellian schemes to get her husband to cry, to Alexandra Jiménez’s screamingly funny attempt to translate phone sex into sign language, each of them has an amusing moment to shine.

It is however the compassionate and accepting nature of the film, that really wins audiences over. It’s that gentle touch that earns Kiki: Love to Love enough good will to forgive some clumsy and disturbing points in the script, and makes it an amusing sex comedy.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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