#EIFF2015 Film Review: The Overnight

Editor's Review

Summary

Brice gives quality material in the script, and lets his writing do the talking. It's open and honest, and mad in just the right quantity; the key is that they're not characters placed in funny situations, they're just funny characters.

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As part of our coverage of the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2015, Fortitude Magazine are bringing you reviews from the festival as they are screened.

‘The Overnight’, written & directed by Patrick Brice, and produced by mumblecore duo Mark and Jay Duplass, explores the relationship of a married couple with a young son settling into their family home in Los Angeles. Stay-at-home dad Alex (Adam Scott) and his career-driven wife Emily (Taylor Schilling) are happy, if a little unfulfilled due to some post-matrimonial coital issues. On an outing at the local swing park, they meet Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), a trendy hipster-type in a hat who invites them to “pizza night” with wife Charlotte (Judith Godrèche) and their son. The offer is accepted and eagerly attended, armed with friendly faces and cheap plonk, but when it gets late and the kids are put to bed, they find that the evening has more in-store for them than they’d bargained for.

With American sex-comedies, the onus was on the teen sub-genre for so long to bring us the best but mostly cringeworthy laughs. The focus has switched with a trend of protagonists in their late twenties to early thirties, struggling to adapt to grown-up life. This change has made the humour less extreme in its execution, and more reliant on more clever, nuanced scripts and performances.


Read other film reviews in this #EIFF2015 series here.

What sets this aside from the majority of films of its kind is that it’s witty without veering into corny territory. Admittedly there is ridiculousness in the characters; mainly Kurt who paints abstract bum holes to unwind in his down time, but the comedy moments aren’t built into structured set-pieces in the way that one is used to. Instead, the humour is spread consistently throughout the boundary-pushing conversations shared between the two couples; the key is that they’re not characters placed in funny situations, they’re just funny characters. The performances help to enhance and elevate a strong script, and all four are on form, bouncing off one another, each having their own great lines of dialogue. Almost as hilarious as the comedic delivery, is the reaction acting on show to the bizarre events that transpire in the small hours.

‘The Overnight’ takes an idea that could have easily been mishandled in less assured hands, and gets it right. Brice gives quality material in the script, and lets his writing do the talking. It’s open and honest, and mad in just the right quantity, and when you think you have the narrative sized up, a subtly aimed curveball makes you think again. Scott and Schilling share warmth and a natural chemistry as Alex and Emily, and have an endearing vulnerability which contrasts perfectly with the charisma and confidence of their hosts, creating a fantastic dinner-party foursome you would be happy to be the fifth wheel at. You may want to make your excuses to leave after the mains though.

‘The Overnight’ gets its release in the UK 26th June.

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