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The Overnight - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
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The Overnight
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Directing: B+
Acting: B+
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B+



Usually a particularly short run time does not bode well for a film, but somehow a mere hour and twenty minutes works perfectly for The Overnight. It might even do well just to think of it as a particularly long short film.

The premise is simple enough: a recent transplant couple from Seattle, Alex and Emily (Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling) are invited over to the home of brand new L.A.-couple friends Kurt and Charlotte (Jason Schwartzman and Judith Judith Godrèche), where they wind up spending the night amidst mounting sexual tension.

This keeps the cast kept to a minimum and the budget low, none of which detracts from this amusing and original story by Patrick Bice (who also directs). In fact, unlike most comedies these days which have an unfortunate tendency to be overlong, the humor hits with just the right frequency. The opening scene involves a sex scene between Alex and Emily engaging in awkwardly executed dirty talk.

The Overnight could be considered a more realistic and less predictable This is 40. Granted, although Jason Schwartzman and Taylor Schilling are only 35 and 30, respectively, they present here as several years older -- believable peers to their respective character-spouses here, Adam Scott and Judith Godrèche, who are indeed both in their forties. These characters have kids who make the very timing of sex a challenge -- a point that serves as an effective punch line at both the beginning and the end of this movie.

They all have their issues, which may not themselves be modern, but how they express them certainly is. Alex has such an abnormally small penis that Emily has to ask him to move it around in circles. Kurt and Charlotte are so far into their marriage that they are looking to outside sources to spice it up. Kurt and Alex meet at a park where their young sons are playing, and ultimately invites him and Emily to dinner at their house that night.

Kurt and Charlotte are somewhat L.A.-hippie caricatures. Kurt disallows his son's consumption of Alex's son's gummy worms because he's on a "strict vegan diet." The dinner they make is salad and vegan pizza. Refreshingly, however, these details are only mentioned in passing and are never made a part of the humor; it never really comes up again.

What does is Kurt and Charlotte's apparent "free spiritedness." When Alex and Emily suggest they get their son home to bed, Kurt suggests they put the two boys together there at their house, and continue their fun evening. This is when the evening gets alternately fun and weird -- but in all the right ways. Some of Kurt and Charlotte's quirks are a little much. Kurt's painting studio is full of portraits that look vaguely floral but are actually portraits of anuses. Charlotte takes Emily on an excursion that takes the film into one of the few moments that straddle the line of plausibility.

But it's the budding relationships, and particularly the fumbling sex, that make this movie work so well. It's easy to see yourself in the position of any of these four people and understand how they respond and react. There's an openness to vulnerability among adults not often seen in film, and humor that is both subtle and remarkably effective nearly all of the time. The performances are solid all around, and it's nice to see Taylor Schilling, in particular, ease so comfortably into a role outside of Orange Is the New Black.

The night wears on, all four of them get drunker and more naked. Tensions run high and low and high again, each couples' reactions to the others revealing unspoken insecurities. There's a lot of awkwardness in this movie, which I often find nearly unbearable (making me avert my eyes more than at a horror movie), but in the end it's the genuine nature of the feelings and emotions on display that wins out. Most comedies that address or feature a lot of sexuality have no real basis in reality, but The Overnight is the opposite. If you don't necessarily see yourself in these couples, it's not hard to imagine them as at least people you know. This movie leaves you feeling good about the sloppy nature of love, sex and friendship -- a delicate achievement if ever there was one.

Jason Schwartzman, Judith Godrèche, Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling find themselves in awkwardly pseudo-sexual situations in THE OVERNIGHT.


Overall: B+
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