Directed by: Patrick Brice.
Written by: Patrick Brice.
Starring: Adam Scott (Alex), Taylor Schilling (Emily), Jason Schwartzman (Kurt), Judith Godrèche (Charlotte).
Patrick Brice’s debut film – Creep (which came out on VOD just a few months ago), is a horror film where an amateur filmmaker agrees to take a job for a seemingly nice guy who wants to document his life, who gradually reveals himself to be more and more disturbed. His follow-up film, The Overnight, actually has quite a few things in common with Creep, even though it’s basically a sex comedy. Brice has an expanded cast this time – instead of Creep, which was basically a two-hander, The Overnight is basically a quartet – two couples, getting together on one long night where they get drunk, they get stoned – and maybe, just maybe, will do something more.
The first couple in the film is Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) a couple who has just moved to L.A. with their young son, and basically know no one. They meet Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) and his two sons at the park one day, and he invites the whole family to his place for pizza night. The kids go to bed fairly early, and then it’s just the four adult – Kurt’s wife Charlotte (Judith Godreche) – having joined them. Kurt and Charlotte seem to have it all – a big house, lots of money, artistic freedom, and when Kurt strips down to go skinny dipping, he reveals something else he has – an enormous penis. This makes Alex somewhat insecure, since his own penis is abnormally small – and yes, there is an amusing scene with both men naked, and with their obvious prosthetic penises. As the film moves along, and everyone gets drunker and more stoned, the films sexual tension grows as well – with Emily wondering if they’re crossed over from California free spirited territory to swingers territory. There is a sequence where the two women head out into the night, and Charlotte shows something shocking to Emily – bathed in orange light – which represents somewhat of a shift in the film.
Yet, The Overnight never really goes anywhere – and ends before anything really interesting happens. It’s to the actor’s credit that the film works as well as it does. Adam and Emily are a purposefully boring and bland couple, who like to think of themselves as hipper than they really are (and really, they know this). But it’s fun for them to see how the other side lives, for a while, until it gets disturbing – and Emily in particular wants to retreat to her boring and bland life. Scott and Schilling do more with these character than you think possible really – because both are so likable. Poor Judith Godreche isn’t given all that much to do as Charlotte – she’s French, and the movie kind of plays off the French’s lustful reputation, but her character kind of gets lost in the movie, only snapping into focus near the end. The star of the movie is Schwartzman, who is hilarious, and eventually kind of touching as Kurt – who starts off as kind of hipster douchebag, but gradually becomes a real person. I have sometimes imagined the characters Schwartzman plays as grown up versions of Max Fischer – his character in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore, and if his work in Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up Philip represents the darkest potential path that Fischer could have taken, then The Overnight is at least somewhat lighter. Kurt is still brimming with confidence and bravado, like Fischer, but there’s a human underneath there.
Overall, The Overnight feels too slight for me – even at only 79 minutes – to be truly worthwhile. Creep took things all the way to their logical conclusion, and never flinched. The Overnight feels like it does flinch in the end – just as the film was getting to something really, truly interesting, Brice goes for a quick laugh, and a wrap-up. The Overnight then is little more than a distraction – an amusing distraction to be sure, but not all that much else.