Mark Reviews Movies

The Overnight


2 ½ Stars (out of 4)

Director: Patrick Brice

Cast: Adam Scott, Jason Schwartzman, Taylor Schilling, Judith Godrèche

MPAA Rating: R (for strong sexuality, graphic nudity, language and drug use)

Running Time: 1:19

Release Date: 6/19/15 (limited); 6/26/15 (wider)

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Review by Mark Dujsik | June 26, 2015

Anyone who tells you they do not feel inadequate in some way is either a rampant narcissist or a really poor liar. The Overnight is a comedy about people who are driven by their various feelings of inadequacy, which makes it quite funny in an uncomfortable, painful way. We're not laughing at these characters, but we're definitely not laughing with them, either.

The laughter here comes from recognition and sympathy, because who hasn't looked in the mirror and felt at least a little insecure? Who hasn't caught a glimpse of some unknown emotion on the face of a lover or spouse and thought that you're the cause of it? Who hasn't felt certain that you're failing in some capacity of your life because of something you've done or just who you are?

Writer/director Patrick Brice's movie is something of an oddity. Its humor is broad and uncouth, but at times, it's also devastating in its connection to the anxieties and doubts of these characters.

The movie opens with a sex scene, the details of which are vital yet perhaps too candid to print. Let's just say that the guy desperately wants to hear that a certain part of him is something that it's not and that the only way for them to achieve any kind of satisfaction from the act is to go at it alone. This time, it's interrupted by the couple's young son barging into the room. We suspect this isn't the first time such an unwanted disruption has occurred. We also suspect that, even if the couple had finished their business, neither of them would really have been satisfied.

They both know it. Neither wants to say it. He, we come to learn, hates himself for it, and she, despite being "fine" with what her husband has to offer her, kind of resents it a little bit, too. They're both in denial. It's not so bad that it's only thing keeping their marriage together, but it has gotten to the point that it helps. In their minds, it's definitely better than the alternative, which could only hurt.

Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) reveal all of this and little more over the course of a long night that turns to morning. Well, he actually reveals a lot—or, in his mind, a little—more, as the drinking turns to marijuana and the combination, along with a little encouragement, makes him feel more comfortable in his own skin—enough to reveal all of his skin, actually.

The impetus is another married couple. They're Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) and Charlotte (Judith Godrèche), a pair of free spirits who invite Alex and Emily over to their palatial home after the couples' kids bond at the local park. Alex and Emily are new in town, and they're not convinced they'll be able to make friends easily. She works a lot to make ends meet, and he is shy and uncertain around new people.

Kurt and Charlotte are exactly what they want: friendly people who seem likeable enough and who seem to like them, too. They get along fine. Kurt puts the kids to bed with a well-rehearsed routine of incense, mood lighting, and soft tones on a keyboard (If the movie does come close to mocking any of these characters, it's Kurt and his stereotypical neo-hippie ways, but nonetheless, it's funny, particularly his bright paintings of a certain orifice located where the sun doesn't shine).

The adults break out the adult materials. Off come the clothes, and out come a whole lot of subjects that Alex, who is intimidated by the Kurt's size (if you catch my drift), and Emily, who is convinced her husband is attracted to Charlotte (His compliments of her breasts after Kurt shows a breast-pump instruction video featuring her are a tip-off), would rather avoid—namely that there's a "swinger vibe" to the whole evening.

The movie is, again, very funny as we start to see how these characters create and respond to awkward situations, and it becomes even funnier as Brice twists our expectations, particularly in the way the uptight Alex opens himself up to the experience. The jokes may be over-the-top, but the key is in how the performances work to downplay the shocks. The quirks of their lifestyle are nothing new to Kurt and Charlotte (There's a really effective matter-of-fact quality from Schwartzman and Godrèche), and Scott and Schilling play the revelations as people who are desperately trying not to offend their hosts with a reflexively critical gasp or sideways glance. There's a sense of them juggling whether it's worth having a couple of weird friends over having none.

Something, though, gets a little off-balance as the movie progresses. It becomes a little sinister as the motives of Kurt and Charlotte start to seem a little crueler than we might expect. Maybe those words with the negative connotations aren't completely accurate, but the tone of the movie certainly shifts in a way that makes it less playful. Brice does justify it by the climax, in which all is revealed, but just as The Overnight finds its characters at their most emotionally transparent, Brice doesn't follow through on it. It's a good punch line, but it makes these characters, who deserve a bit more for all they've gone through, the butt of the joke.

Copyright © 2015 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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