Synopsis: Alex (Adam Scott), Emily (Taylor Schilling), and their son, RJ, have recently moved to Los Angeles’ Eastside from Seattle. Feeling lost in a new city, they are desperate to find their first new friends. After a chance meeting with Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) at the neighborhood park, they gladly agree to join him and his wife Charlotte (Judith Godreche) for family pizza night at their home. But as the night goes on and the kids go to bed, the family family “playdate” becomes increasingly more revealing and bizarre as the couples begin to open up.
The Overnight 8.0
eyelights: the cast. the dialogues.
eyesores: the script’s limited scope.
“I feel like I just gave birth to myself.’
Movies about swinging are hardly new: ‘Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice‘, for instance, did it years ago, way back in 1969. Patrick Brice’s ‘The Overnight’, however, takes a different approach, incorporating more modern values and character dynamics.
Released in 2015, the picture stars Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling as Alex and Emily, a couple who has just moved to California with their young son to further Emily’s career. With no friends or family there, they are anxious about their social life.
Enter Kurt and Charlotte, played by Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche: After being befriended by Kurt in a park, at a birthday party their son is attending, they are invited over for a pizza dinner with his family. They all hit it off amazingly well.
Perhaps too well.
In the course of one evening, they will not only get to know each other’s intimate secrets, they will also forge a closeness that they never expected. This will cause tremors in their respective couples, but also push them beyond their personal boundaries.
Frankly, there’s really not that much plot to ‘The Overnight’; it’s basically over 70 minutes of watching a couple party together, having drinks, smoking up, dancing, skinny dipping, having fun. What makes it work are the dialogues, both witty and reflective.
…and the performances:
- I’ve only seen Adam Scott in select pictures but I quite enjoy him; his performances always seem natural to me. Alex isn’t entirely genuine or honest; he’s obviously worried about fitting in and making friends, so he frequently compliments or indulges people. He’ll also blatantly lie for appearances’ sake.
A perfect example of this is when he tells Kurt and Charlotte that the 2$ wine Emily brought is from a friend’s vineyard and that they reuse bottles – hence the torn label (which he tore off on the way in). After drinking and getting stoned, however, he loses all his inhibitions and lives only in the moment.
In Scott’s hands he’s a flawed but likable character. He feels real and sympathetic.
- Taylor Schilling is absolutely lovely as Emily. Her Emily is a bit guarded, seeing cause for concern after a short while – especially after Charlotte shares a few intimate secrets with her. She tries to get Alex to pay attention, making of her a bit of a party pooper, but her intentions are good and she thankfully doesn’t stir the pot needlessly.
And she’s actually very understanding, overall: Alex is self-conscious about his body and she’s always been extremely supportive of him. But she has her own hang-ups: she is a bit self conscious about her breasts, post-pregnancy, and is intimidated by Charlotte’s sexual freedom. Plus she won’t admit to herself that she’s curious about other men.
Frankly, I’ve only seen Schilling in ‘Orange is the New Black’, but I’d watch more of her.
- I’ve long had mixed feelings about Jason Schwartzman – ever since ‘Rushmore’. He’s a good actor, but his characters always seems a bit awkward, like they’re dorks passing themselves off as cool dudes, hipsters. It just doesn’t work for me.
The character, however, I like: Kurt is slick, self-indulgent but warm and extremely open and welcoming. He really seems to tap into the best of himself, of his spouse and of his new friends. He has a very kind, generous spirit.
Granted, we eventually discover that he has ulterior motives, but it doesn’t make any of his personality less genuine. And, for this reason, I think he’s a fascinating character. And, honestly, Schwartzman delivers the goods here.
- Although I’ve seen two of the many films in her career, I don’t actually recall seeing Judith Godrèche before; she seemed like a revelation to me. Her Charlotte is so sweet and endearing. She is so adoring of her spouse and so warm towards her new friend.
But she also clearly has an eye for both of them (or at least hints to it) and is maybe a little too affectionate with them, given that they’ve just met. But she has a private life that is all her own, and she shares part of it with Emily, shocking her in the process.
‘The Overnight’ is an unusually funny film – it mines its humour in awkwardness, in a relatively average couple crossing paths with a more unconventional one. It’s all centered on this clash of philosophies and in the minor misunderstandings that take place.
There’s this great moment when they accuses Kurt of wanting to sleep with Emily, but it’s really Alex that he wants. That this is balanced out by the fact that Charlotte wants both of them mellows the couple out completely, defusing the situation.
And there’s this great bookend to the picture, that begins with Alex and Emily trying to get off together, but being interrupted by their son. A similar fate awaits them at the end, just as we think that they’re all going to succumb and melt together.
Ha. Should’ve seen it coming. But didn’t.
It’s this mix of predictability and unpredictability that makes ‘The Overnight’ work; just when you think it’ll zig, it zags. It’s nothing especially new, and it’s not particularly ambitious, but Brice found ways to pepper the pot just enough to give it spice.
It’s pretty tasty for a low budget production shot over the course of just two weeks.
I’m sure to check out Brice’s other films now.
Date of viewing: March 28. 2016