Honest Awkwardness Is Key to Success of ‘The Overnight’

by Trey Hock on July 2, 2015

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Solid Rock Fist Up]

The Overnight is as funny as it is hard to recommend. It is an excellent film that shows exceptional craft and an honest dedication to its subject matter. I found it awkward, charming and hilarious.

So what am I dancing around in this review? What is the elephant in the room?

Written and directed by Patrick Brice, The Overnight is a sex comedy that takes on the issue of two couples sexually comingling. It is strange, awkward, and works brilliantly because of Brice’s brutally honest approach to the curiosity and insecurity that plagues each of us.

The film starts with Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling), a married couple with a young son, RJ. They have just moved to Los Angeles, and at a kids play date in a nearby park, Emily and Alex meet Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) whose son, Max, has made fast friends with RJ.

Kurt invites the newcomers over for dinner. He and his wife Charlotte (Judith Godrèche) couldn’t more inviting. All is normal until the boys fall asleep. Once that happens, the party is on. Drinking and recreational marijuana use leads to Kurt showing off his impressionistic anatomical paintings, skinny-dipping and much more.

The comedy in this film is built on awkward and uncomfortable situations. To find out if you are the type of person who can handle the humor of The Overnight watch the opening 7 minutes of the film. This clip is very Not Safe For most Work places.

If you are still with me, I encourage you to check out The Overnight. The characters are well developed and charming, and the performances from Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling and Jason Schwartzman could not be better.

Alex and Emily are normal. Alex struggles with a very fragile male ego, but loves and is committed to his wife. Emily is encouraging of her husband, but she fights her own curiosity since Alex is the only person with whom she has ever been sexually involved.

Kurt and Charlotte are quirky and free spirited, but also loving and encouraging. It makes their eccentricities easy to accept, because they are both so likeable.

The editing of this film is exceptional. It allows moments to unfold in a way that accentuates their discomfort or strangeness. It also gives the viewer an understanding of the developing situation just in advance of the characters. We get to see what is happening then seconds later, watch as Alex or Emily realizes what is going on. Most of the funniest moments are reaction shots of characters processing the situation around them.

As much as I enjoyed this film, it is difficult to widely recommend. If you’re open to the hilarity of your own insecurities, especially those which surround your sexual misgivings, then The Overnight will bring laughter and more than a few awkward gasps. If you, on the other hand, cannot handle a parade of everything that makes a sexual relationship weird and funny, then you might want to skip this one.

In addition to contributing to Scene-Stealers, Trey makes short films and teaches at the Kansas City Art Institute. Follow him here:

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