The Overnight Review

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Posted June 26, 2015 by Eduardo Gueiros in Movies

Directed by: Patrick Brice

Written by: Patrick Brice

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

Released: July 26th, 2015

 

The Overnight gives us an intriguing, and unexpected, glimpse into young parenthood, as we accompany two couples through an adventurous night in. This refreshing comedy combines humor, poignancy, and self-reflection to enthrall the audience with an incisive and unpredictable plot.

Alex and Emily (Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling), along with their young son RJ, have recently moved to LA for Emily’s job; Alex is a stay at home dad. We open on Alex and Emily having, seemingly less than stellar, early-morning sex before being interrupted by their toddler storming into the room. This scene highlights both the tone and the themes we can expect to see throughout the film, and sets us up for an unexpected ride.

Alex is anxious about making friends in this new place, but a birthday party their son goes to quickly presents itself as an opportunity to meet other parents. This is where the young couple meets Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), a stereotypical embodiment of an LA hipster, who forwardly befriends Alex and Emily after seeing his son playing happily with RJ. He consequently invites the young couple to “family pizza night” later that evening; an invitation that is quickly accepted, and that consequently gets the plot started.

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Alex, Emily, and RJ arrive at Kurt’s mansion with a bottle of “Two Buck Chuck,” and meet Kurt’s wife, the elegantly European Charlotte (Judith Godrèche). As the enjoyable evening starts to seemingly wind down, Kurt offers to let RJ sleepover if Alex and Emily are willing to stay a little longer to enjoy their company without worrying about children. At this point, you start to think you know what’s coming from a plot perspective, but it’s in fact where things start taking a turn toward the unexpected.

A raunchy and debauchery-filled night commences when a huge bong is produced, and we get a clearer idea of who the characters we’re watching really are. The confident and open Kurt starts talking of his wife’s career as an actress and produces a DVD copy of her breast-pumping video, while Charlotte gladly accepts the polite compliments she receives from the then-uncomfortable guests. These instances of stark contrast between the two couples allow us to establish who these characters really are, which in turn allows us to later reflect on how much they’ve grown. Kurt and Charlotte’s lack of inhibition quickly becomes contagious, as Alex and Emily ignore the oddity of the evening and embrace their new friends.

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As the adults get to know each other better, they are also forced to look at themselves individually through the self-reflection their dynamic instigates. The comedy is layered with more serious material such as marital strains and concerns over sexual ineptitude, providing a lot of depth to the plot, while also allowing the characters to develop in intriguing and unexpected ways. The pacing is tremendous and toys with our emotions as an audience, since our reactions and feelings constantly jump around with the smooth, yet drastic, tonal differences between scenes. In one scene we watch as Kurt shows Alex the plethora of paintings he’s produced featuring the place on the human body ‘where the sun don’t shine,’ while in another Alex and Emily have an emotionally charged talk regarding their relationship and their lives together as a whole. The differences are prominent, but in the context of the film they fit together perfectly.

The performances in this film are all wonderful. Scott and Schilling mesh incredibly well together as a couple. Scott brings some of the slightly awkward and overly-concerned personality traits we’ve seen in Parks and Recreation, and combines it with some edge to create a fascinating character, while Schilling shows us a more even-keeled character that eventually flourishes as she’s encouraged to allow her emotions to bubble up to the surface. Judith Godrèche also plays the sultry Charlotte beautifully. Her character is the most mysterious, and she conveys this perfectly with her illustrative facial expressions that quickly let us know there’s more to her than meets the eye. Jason Schwartzman steals it, though. His portrayal of the incredibly in-your-face Kurt is fantastic, as he plays both the humorous and the dramatic scenes exceptionally, showing multiple sides of his incredibly well-crafted character.

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The film, written and directed by Patrick Brice, and produced by Mark Duplass, is incredibly entertaining, but also manages to stay true to the themes it sets out to analyze. While the plot doesn’t exactly portray the run-of-the-mill life of a young parent, it remains faithful to the common themes associated with the difficulties in that stage of life. Through his cleverly crafted plot, Patrick Brice uses atypical circumstances to explore the lives of four incredibly different individuals going through similar issues, while also developing their personalities throughout the course of this one odd night. Brice’s choice to limit the scope of the film to a single primary location (the mansion) was also incredibly effective in developing this character-driven story. This contained and concise (79 min runtime) approach allows the focus to shift within the story without different locations or environments distracting from the primary attraction of the film: its characters.

The character-focused nature of the film is a refreshing change of pace among some of the summer blockbusters, as is the analytical plot surrounding self-reflection. This film is well-conceived and well-executed, and should leave the audience excited on what else it might see from Patrick Brice in the future.


About the Author

Eduardo Gueiros