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Sundance Review: “The Overnight” is a Contained Comedy About Expanding a Marriage’s Horizons

Review: "The Overnight" is a Contained Comedy About Expanding a Marriage's Horizons

Fulfilling friendships can be hard to develop in the adult world. Is not as simple as setting up a play date anymore, kids have it easy when it come to
meeting new people. Still, is perhaps grown ups that need the platonic bond the most. Life can be overwhelmingly monotonous when responsibilities both at
home and in the work place hinder one’s ability to see the world, and the people in it, with the same sense of wonder we experience as children. Expanding
one’s experiential repertoire should be a priority. Abiding by this idea of openness towards unknown situations, Patrick Brice’s “ The Overnight” places two couples in a sleepover date that evolves into a transformative occasion with its fair share of enjoyable
ridiculousness and unexpected thoughtfulness.

The corrosive nature of routine has brought young parents Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily’s (Taylor Schilling) relationship to an emotional plateau in which
sexual satisfaction no longer exists. Both sincerely feel like this family is where their happiness really is, but introducing some excitement into their
everyday chores wouldn’t hurt. Originally from Seattle, the couple has just moved to a hip neighborhood in L.A. and hasn’t been able to kick-start their
social life. Alex is especially concerned about meeting new people because he is a stay-at-home dad. His human interaction is limited to the time his
spends caring for their son RJ. He wants to be around people his age, but clearly understands that he can’t just ask other adults to be his friends. Would
that be pathetic or desperate?

His prayers are almost instantly answered, however, when a local dad, Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), approaches them at a nearby park. Kurt’s entryway is the
tender image of his son quickly developing a fondness for RJ (R.J. Hermes) at the playground. Alex and Emily are impressed by Kurt’s politeness and sophistication, and
while they won’t admit it, they feel inadequate. But that’s of little importance to the persuasively charming Kurt as he spontaneously invites them over
for dinner that night to welcome them into the neighborhood. Without much hesitation Alex and Emily accept the offer. They are in for a

At their new friend’s place, the quiet, even prudish couple gets acquainted with Charlotte (Taylor Schilling), Kurt’s exuberant French wife. Their household is a temple to
progressive ideas and refinement. Their son is learning both French and Spanish while already being enrolled at a school whose goal is to maximize his
potential. Kurt is the type of overachieving guy that has done it all, yet he is also incredibly nice, at least when there is an ulterior motive in the
mix. Alex is at once fascinated and disgusted by Kurt’s asinine description of the water filtration system that he personally developed or his abstract
paintings resembling human orifices. And these are probably the basis for a great friendship to flourish between them. Meanwhile, Emily is not as sold on
where the evening is going. Once the soirée is in full swing and the children are asleep, the two couples with delve into uncharted territory, at least for
some of them.

Encouraging exploration and uninhibited behavior, the hosts push the boundaries of what that their guest had anticipated for the evening. The sexual
tension that increasingly permeates each amusing sequence is often comical because of one side’s willingness and the other’s flagrant advances disguised in
subtle enticement. While both Schilling and Godreche offer successful supporting performances in this ensemble piece, particularly in a scene involving a
massage parlor and a peephole, is Scott and Schwartzman’s rare, but enthralling comedic chemistry on screen that carries the film throughout its twisty
path. It’s the swift closeness between the two males that offers the more rewarding lessons, perhaps because it’s often men who have a bigger hang-up about
reaching out for affection and validation. Note that weaved into these introspective moments are wildly comical occurrences.

Economical in its visual style and in almost every other aspect, “The Overnight” allows the performances to take over and build a special
multi-angle character study. Unlike Polanski’s flawed “Carnage,” Brice’s film is able to elicit a less theatrical humanity, which an asset
because it formulate questions about relationships without an overbearing philosophical cloud over it. At the core of it is Alex’ breakthrough at some
point during their overnight stay. He suffers from one of the most common sources of male insecurity, and his new buddy Kurt is eager to help him get over
it. Scott manages to deliver a wonderfully conventional guy in his early 30s, who is curious enough to let himself confront that issue – even if he does so
while highly intoxicated. It becomes natural to relate to him and to join in his hilarious pain.

Of course, Schwartzman, as usual, goes all the way with the maddening nonchalant demeanor of his character. Suave and exuding animalistic confidence, Kurt
is that guy some aspire to be but with whom most of us couldn’t be friends. It’s hard to handle so much casual, outrageous elegance. Schwartzman can make
pumping breast milk out a nursing woman look cool. At least as cool as non-Nordic people can take, which, according to Kurt, are fascinated by this
process. Evidently, his flirtatious powers are not to be underestimated.

Even with all its standout elements, Brice’s film is not a perfect exercise in marriage counseling through exposure therapy. At times the film reaches a
level of strange repetitiveness, but fortunately the punch lines are always strong enough tot make one remember the highlights. The filmmaker hit a high
note casting these two hysterically nuanced actors to play such revealing roles – in every sense – and elicit some real human drama. Scott and Schwartzman
make for a perfect duo. “The Overnight” touches on obstacles closer to our everyday struggles rather than searching for the something
overly peculiar. It’s in that natural familiarity that the comedy works best. This is a small gem of a film about discovery that thrives on its sweetly
irreverent cast.

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