Malcolm’s life is going nowhere. He works in a bookshop and has cut his ties with the real world. Once a week, however, he visits Maria in an apartment. Maria is a striking woman in her late twenties, who uses this apartment to receive her “clients”. Malcolm and Maria, though, have a unique relationship. Filled with desire and bizarre rituals, their relationship is different to the others she has with her clients - it revolves mostly around talking. Unable to communicate with anyone else, Malcolm becomes obsessed by Maria.
On one of these visits, unable to resist the temptation, Malcolm steals her diary. She has spoken to him in the past of a client whom she feels threatened by. As he reads her diary, he discovers more about the real danger she is in. Desperate, he goes to find Maria, but is knocked unconscious by a mysterious figure whose face he never sees. He wakes up the next day, outside the city, in the middle of nowhere. He makes his way back to Maria’s, but to his horror, finds the apartment has been destroyed, and she is nowhere to be seen…
Thus begins Malcolm’s investigation. Paranoid and afraid, convinced he is being followed, he uses the diary as a guide to try and track Maria down. All the leads, however, confusingly lead nowhere. The people mentioned in her diary do not even seem to exist. No longer capable of making the distinction between reality and his imagination, he finally stumbles on an old man who he has seen before, but never spoken to. The old man recognises the woman in the crumpled photograph that Malcolm carries everywhere with him. He tells him where she lives – and that she is not called Maria, but Elizabeth Gordon. Horrified, it dawns on Malcolm that Maria has created a parallel life for herself - and for him. A web of lies, at the heart of which lies he is entangled.
A shadow of his former self, Malcolm makes his way to Maria’s house, where she lives a protected life, with her children and her husband. She looks entirely different. Gone are the extravagant clothes and the irresistible looks. She is a conventional housewife. He feels utterly betrayed. Devastated at the sight of two worlds colliding, Elizabeth confesses she based herself on her best friend who committed suicide years ago. Malcolm insists on seeing her one more time. She agrees.
They meet again, in a hotel room on the outskirts of the city. Maria looks how he remembers her. She explains that she loved him and still does, but that she had to protect herself and her children. Their encounter is tender and affectionate. We see them make love for the first and the last time. As they are making love, when Malcolm is at his weakest, she strangles him. Later, at dawn, we find Maria on a bridge looking out over the river.
She has finally got rid of Malcolm - and Maria. In the process, she has also killed part of herself.
We know that she will attempt to go back to her ordinary life. Whether she will succeed is another matter.
Seen through Malcolm’s warped mind, Little Deaths is very much a London film. It is a thriller about identity and isolation, desire and despair.