IR Film Review: Patrick Brice’s ‘The Overnight’ is a Strange, Honest and Heartfelt Delight

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by: Jay Carlson

One of my biggest fears is being thrown into new situations where I don’t have the support system of my closest friends. I’m shy and slightly socially awkward, so the thought of packing up and moving away and having to start all over again is the stuff of nightmares for me.

Because of this I can relate to the situation facing Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling), a couple who are strangers in an even stranger land, Los Angeles. They’ve recently packed up and moved from Seattle with their son, RJ and are desperate toconnect and find some friends in their new town. While at a local park Alex meets another father Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), oozing trendy hipster cool who invites the whole family over for pizza night so the kids can have fun and the adults can all spend some time getting to know each other better.

They arrive at the palatial home of Kurt and his lovely wife Charlotte (Judith Godrèche) and are having a fine dinner, chatting and enjoying some time getting to know their new friends.

Once the kids get to sleep the film kicks into another gear as the couples begin to peel away layers, both emotionally and literally. Schilling proves to be the perfect surrogate for the audience, questioning where this ride is going while Scott floats further into the drug and alcohol fueled abyss. Schilling is pitch perfect throughout the film, no matter what situation she finds herself in.

As the night goes on, Brice manages to deftly take these couples to places you would never expect, switching gears from heartfelt to comedic on a dime while never striking an inauthentic note. There are awkward and squirm inducing moments but they never feel false or unearned due to the film’s unflinching honesty and heart. This mix makes for an terrific film that constantly rewards its audience with depth and humor.

Brice masterfully plays with our preconceived notions of what trendy L.A. people are really like, making us question if there is more to Kurt and Charlotte than they’re letting on or if this is just a normal evening. I wouldn’t dream of spoiling more of the film  as it’s a surreal and cathartic ride.

None of these moments would work if not for the magnetic cast who make each scene crackle with nervous electricity. Schwartzman oozes charisma as a charming and disarming L.A. hipster, a character that would have been easy to loathe if played by a lesser actor. Kurt is the lynchpin to the film, if his performance didn’t work the rest of the film would have been fighting an uphill battle.

Adam Scott is also great as a character that most would classify as the straight man of the film, but he manages to elevate Alex to far more than something so two-dimensional thanks to his earnest performance and Brice’s sharp writing.

I’d be remiss to not mention Judith Godrèche who mesmerized as Kurt’s European wife. Godrèche manages to charge each scene with a sultry exotic sexuality that you don’t see very often these days.

Patrick Brice’s The Overnight is awkward, audacious and hilarious in all the best ways. He’s certainly got a unique voice that proves he’s a filmmaker to keep your eye on.

Grade: B+