The story concerns young professional Taylor Schilling and stay-at-home dad Adam Scott, and their recent move to LA for Schilling’s new job. Alex (Scott) is finding difficulty making new friends, arguing that it’s easier for Emily (Schilling) as she can merely adopt new friends at her place of work. Inevitably this leads to a chance meeting with local parents Kurt (Schwartzman) and Charlotte (Godrèche) at a children’s park where their respective little boys take a shine to each other. Kurt is welcoming and charming, and invites his new friends for a playdate between their boys and his house.
What starts as a relatively normal dinner party, with homemade pizza for the kids and a fair amount of wine for the adults, soon gets crazier after the kids are put to bed and the adults get to cutting loose and having some fun. At first the tone of the film is slightly erratic, putting the viewer in a sense of unease as we question Kurt and Charlotte’s motives; this leads to a few subtly tense and confusing scenes of interaction between the two couples, and it becomes apparent – and a testament to Patrick Brice’s direction and writing abilities – that the tone of the film is putting you in the shoes of Alex and Emily themselves. They are confused and slightly perturbed by Kurt and Charlotte’s overly-open demeanour and quirky sensibilities which lie just outside the boundaries of social norms – as are we.
The night goes from strange situation to strange situation, with uptight Alex and suspicious Emily slowly unwinding and warming to their new funhouse-mirror friends’ looseness and free spirit. Alex especially has a fantastic arc concerning his self-confidence and male ego issues, a problem that exists as a wedge between him and Emily; Kurt and Charlotte perfectly represent a relaxed, hippy-dippy pair of unwitting gurus, a representation of the West Coast, upper middle class spirit; heads in the clouds, but money in the bank. Their personality-driven collision course is fun to behold, and damn sweet by the end; a funny thought to have considering some of the explicit content to be witnessed in the film’s final third.
Whilst not a perfect film there’s plenty to enjoy here, but unfortunately for what can only be assumed is a minute subsection of the global audience. There could have been a lot more broad comedy to be gained from the situations encountered in The Overnight; however, Brice and co. choose to play it altogether more dark and off-kilter. Whilst slightly alienating to a mainstream audience, the tone of the comedy again represents the absurd nature of the night itself and the scepticism, doubt and mistrust of the main players.
As such, The Overnight should be treated as a curio for fans of the actors involved, fans of the Duplass Brothers’ distinct brand of pseudo-intellectual and repressed humour, and couples in their 30s suffering from a distinct case of white privilege. Not for everyone, but for those it is for, it is a brisk, funny, interesting treat. It’ll stick in your mind for its oddness rather than its quality.
Review by Daniel Woburn
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