IFFBoston 2015 Review: ‘The Overnight’
Directed by: Patrick Brice
Starring: Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, and Jason Schwartzman
Plot: After moving to Los Angeles, a married couple with a young son meet another couple with a young son and have a wild night together.
It seems sort of strange that sex is still a taboo as if it isn’t something we all experience. In cinema, it seems like the less serious a movie takes sex, like Animal House or American Pie, it seems to go over a hell of a lot better than those films that try to examine it. Shortbus and Shame don’t exactly have mass appeal despite being pretty damn interesting. It seems like movie-goers are more comfortable giggling like middle schoolers having just seen their first sex ed video than actually have their sexual hang-ups challenged in anyway. Director Patrick Brice tries to fix that by taking it seriously and not seriously at the same time.
It stars Park and Recreation’s Adam Scott and Orange is the New Black’s Taylor Schilling as a married couple from Seattle, Alex and Emily. They have a young son named RJ. They have just moved to Los Angeles and are concerned that making friends at their age might be weird and hard. While visiting a local park for a child’s birthday, Alex and Emily meet Kurt, a hipster entreprenuer and artist played by Jason Schwartzman. Kurt invites the family over for dinner which the couple gladly accepts. The three, plus Schwartzman’s French wife, Charlotte, played by Judith Godreche, have amazing chemistry. The comic pedigree never goes wasted. Schwartzman brings out the lovable sense of eccentricity that he has displayed in so many Wes Anderson films contrasting nicely against Scott’s straightman niceness and Schilling’s constantly befuddled outsider routine. They easily ping pong off each taking what could have sounded like a bad job interview into a delightful and natural conversation. They each find themselves in such a perfectly comfortable situation that their defenses start dropping. That is when things start getting weird.
Kurt and Charlotte are clearly flirting with the couple and start testing their boundaries. Like when they show off Kurt’s anus art, Charlotte’s breast milking instructional video (that earns more sales as pornography), and then make the suggestion to go skinny dipping. Bare in mind, this is the tame stuff. By testing Alex and Emily’s boundaries, they are actually testing ours, as in the audience’s. Slowly but surely, Brice gets the audience to a place where any topic about sex is on the table. The characters can now openly discuss their sexual insecurities with a bit of sharp wit, and it can feel like they are simply talking about the weather.
With a completely committed cast and smart script, Brice creates a surprisingly insighful and darkly comedic night of debauchery that is not at all rude or crude.