The Little Hours (2017; Jeff Baena)
By Daniel Barnes
More high-concept comedy from Life After Beth director and I Heart Huckabees screenwriter Baena. This time, Baena serves up an oddball adaptation of a single story from Boccaccios’s 14th-century literary keystone The Decameron.
Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza and Kate Micucci play lusty young nuns in a remote Italian convent run by Molly Shannon’s repressed mother and John C. Reilly’s drunken priest. Meanwhile, Dave Franco plays a refugee Lothario hiding out as a deaf-mute handyman.
Bawdy encounters abound, and similar to The Beguiled, the mere presence of Franco’s seasoned but repentant lover drives these cloistered women into a heretical heat, leading to an unexpectedly intense scene set during a witches’ ritual.
The deadpan “gag” here: no one from the cast makes any attempt to hide their American accents or potty-mouthed contemporary vernacular. At the same time, the warm, burnished images of cinematographer Quyen Tran misleadingly suggest a more traditional take.
There’s not much notable about The Little Hours beyond that irresistible premise, and yet I felt tickled almost the entire time. Most of the credit goes to an excellent ensemble cast utterly committed to making their moments work.