The Overnight, 2015.
Written and Directed by Patrick Brice.
Starring Adam Scott, Jason Schwartzman, Taylor Schilling and Judith Godrèche.
Alex, Emily and their son, RJ, are new to Los Angeles. A chance meeting at the park introduces them to the mysterious Kurt, Charlotte and Max. A family “playdate” becomes increasingly interesting as the night goes on.
Coming off of a wave of excellent reviews from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, The Overnight is a comedy about 21st century love, lust and prosthetics. Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) are married with a young boy who have uprooted to Los Angeles for work and the promise of a better life. Eager to meet new people, they head to a birthday party for a friend’s boy, when they meet Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), an exceedingly confident local whose open nature is somewhat off-kilter. But with their eagerness to mix it with LA life, they accept an invitation to a dinner party with Kurt and his wife (Judith Godreche). Thinking the party would be a mix of food, wine and banter, the party soon takes a turn into more adult conversation once the kids are asleep, and soon enough the troupe are discovering much more than they had thought about each other.
What makes The Overnight so refreshing is that is goes where other rambunctious, raucous “adult” comedies only dreamed to go. Where those R-rated “sex-capades” only dip their toe into the pool of love and lust in present day, Patrick Brice’s film does a Ron Burdungy-like cannonball right into the deep end without so much as a flinch, making a huge splash as it plummets down in the lagoon of monogamy and sexual awakenings. But that isn’t to say its aim is to be as smutty as it can possibly be, far from it, because it’s in its candidness, its honesty that really sets the film apart in examining and pushing the boundaries and perceptions of modern-day relationships rather than retreat behind them.
There is a strong beat through the film, pumping real emotions and concerns through the film’s comedic veins that add real resonance alongside the boisterousness of the films obvious subjects. Brice’s screenplay is played openly and frankly with no secrets, no expensive robe covering its naughty bits, no Hollywood sock covering its unmentionables but rather embracing them, letting them all hang out for everyone to see, flaws and all, as well as keeping the suspense of it all simmering in the background.
Brice has also assembled a cast of exceptional comic talent that isn’t afraid to get their acting hands a little dirty. Adam Scott, whose comic abilities continue to soar after his stints in Step Brothers and Parks & Recreation (perhaps not counting Hot Tub Time Machine 2), is again on top form and only enhances further his reputation as one of the best comic-actors in Hollywood. Schilling too is fantastic as the savvy Alex, while Judith Godreche almost steals the show as Kurt’s French wife Charlotte.
But it’s the comic whirlwind of Jason Schwartzman that makes the film truly soar. When we first meet Kurt he seems like a strange egg, with first meetings ending in hugs and awkward moments of creepiness bordering on inappropriate, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Schwartzman is always his most compelling when playing characters that are slightly off-kilter, but here is revels in the confident, rambunctious excess of Kurt that in anyone else’s hands may have come across as particularly offensive.
While it has all the hallmarks of a sex comedy that is more interested in the act rather than the emotions, The Overnight is a refreshingly frank look at sexual awakening in the modern era that always feels fresh and intoxicating. Its observations are never down-and-dirty, but rather a celebration of what love and desire means in 2015, funny bits and all. And coupled with superb performances from its cast (and make-up team), Patrick Brice’s fifth feature is easily his best and is well worth spending 80-odd minutes with.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★