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Jewish Journal

Casual Sex

by Naomi Pfefferman

October 25, 2001 | 8:00 pm

When Australian director Jonathan Teplitzky lived in London in the early 1990s, he befriended a circle of artsy Aussie women who let him sit in on their frank chats about sex.

One of their favorite topics was how a one-night stand could unexpectedly evolve into a relationship. Commercial and music video director Teplitzky turned the concept into his debut feature film, "better than sex," which opens today in Los Angeles.

In the charming romantic comedy, Cin (Susie Porter) and Josh (David Wenham of "Moulin Rouge") meet at a party and ponder the pros and cons of spending the night together. Cin, a costumer form Sydney, privately rejoices that Josh is returning to London in three days, so she won't have to risk messy emotional involvement. Filmmaker Josh notes that "as soon as you're about to leave the country, you suddenly become more desirable" -- a phenomenon Teplitzky noticed while backpacking around Europe in the '90s.

The 42-year-old director, who was raised in a culturally Jewish home in bushland outside Sydney, believes his characters' point of view is uniquely Australian. Through his Jewish eyes, the Aussies have a strangely casual attitude toward sex -- coupled with a "distinctly Anglo-Sexon emotional reticence," he jokes. "It's not two drunken people ending up in bed; it's more like two middle-class people making a calculated decision."

One impetus for the film came from Teplitzky's own experience during a business trip Down Under around 1991. Three days before he was to return to London, he got together with a platonic friend, Amanda, ostensibly on a casual basis. Three years later, he moved in with her in Sydney and they had a son, Miro, now 6.

Sadly, Amanda was diagnosed with breast cancer during the "better than sex" shoot in 2000; she died Oct. 14. "The film has been a healthy distraction that helped me get through this difficult time," Teplitzky says.

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