The Overnight

The Overnight (2015)
★ / ★★★★

Having moved from Seattle to Los Angeles, a married couple, Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling), is worried that they will not be able to fit in and make new friends—crucial especially because they have a young son in need of playdates. While attending a birthday party at a public park, Alex and Emily are approached by Kurt (Jason Schwartzman)—married to Charlotte (Judith Godrèche) and has a son within the age range of an ideal playdate—who is personable, has a lot of recommendations about the area, and is kind enough to invite the former Seattleites for dinner. Alex and Emily accept, convinced that the opportunity is too good to pass up.

Written and directed by Patrick Brice, “The Overnight” is a try-hard pseudo-European, would-be dark comedy about marriage woes and male insecurity. I found it tawdry in appearance, sophomorically written, and unwilling to go all the way when it comes to the promise it makes once it has revealed the strangers’ true intentions. Although it is only about eighty minutes long, I felt it is much longer than a three-hour, complex, sophisticated, ambitious European erotic drama.

A lot of the so-called jokes here involve penile issues. It shows penis prosthetics several times from many angles and it is supposed to be funny or shocking, but it comes off very American—and by that I mean that the overall aura of the film is ashamed of showing nudity by showing fake nudity. Because the dangling plastic looks so ridiculous—insulting even because it is supposed to appear genuine—it is highly difficult to empathize with what the male characters are saying when they begin to open up about their insecurities. The disconnect between the false penis and real emotions is jarring—and insulting.

The movie offers nothing real or important to say about modern or progressive lifestyles. At one point, the possibility that Kurt and Charlotte being swingers is brought up. Instead of exploring Alex and Emily’s concerns, fears, or questions, the screenplay conveniently brushes this fascinating avenue under the rug. Instead, we get a tired, petty, repetitious, and very unconvincing argument between Alex and Emily.

Because the material shows that the two are unable to handle what is in front of them as a team, even in the slightest way, I did not at all believe that Alex and Emily is a real couple who has gone through a lot. More than halfway through, it becomes clear that they are caricatures who belong in a low-grade sitcom, not in a feature film. They are not worth our time and attention.

The performances are a bore, a slog to have to sit through. Scott tries too hard to make us feel that his character is an ordinary Joe with self-esteem issues. The problem is, he looks too tense; an ordinary Joe is more relaxed—especially with his appearance. Schilling has an annoying habit of giving out these crazy wide eyes as if she were on a comedy show signaling the audience to laugh. Scott and Schilling share no chemistry. Schwartzman, meanwhile, does his usual affected demeanor—nothing new or effective there. Godrèche is perhaps the most charming but her character has no dimension, no quality we can really hold onto and root for.

“The Overnight” is probably for thirty-something-year-old, sexually-repressed-but-in-denial-about-it parents who have no Internet or television and so they have a warped sense of what real thirty-something-year-old parents are like in the suburbs of modern America. There is nothing funny or interesting about it. Mr. Brice, what is your intention here? Please explain to me as if I had no advanced education because I felt that my time had been stolen.

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