Sex, Drugs & White People

People are neurotic, kids ruin your sex life and Los Angeles is a weird place to live. These are the basic truths at the center of The Overnight, a deliciously, painfully uncomfortable comedy about two couples who are just trying to make new friends in the big city.

As soon as you see the sad little goatee dirtying up the face of Alex (Adam Scott), you recognize his character: anxious, insecure, trying really hard to be charming. Alex and his wife, Emily (Orange is the New Black’s Taylor Schilling), have just moved from Seattle to L.A. for Emily’s never-elaborated-upon job. She goes to work while he stays home with the kid; in the mornings, they try frantically to have unfulfilling sex before their son appears at the bedroom door. Everything is normal. 

Then Alex and Emily meet Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) and Charlotte (Judith Godrèche). The couples are practically a matched set: dark-haired men, blonde women, sons of roughly the same age. It’s not until several hours into a dinner party at Kurt and Charlotte’s sprawling house that their differences start to slip out. Fueled by wine, whiskey and weed, the foursome split up, wander together and alone through the house (and, at one point, out into the world), get naked, get drunker and generally do a strange little dance of complacency, happiness and dissatisfaction. 

The point of writer-director Patrick Brice’s film might be that every wealthy white couple is neurotic in their own way, even — especially — when they think they’re not. Brice sidles right up to the point where his characters would become intolerable, then pulls back, revealing their insecurities and projections. Alex doesn’t want to get naked. Emily’s discomfort with his attraction to Charlotte is about something else entirely. Kurt isn’t really all that zen. Paintings of buttholes can never look like anything but paintings of buttholes. If Charlotte’s bored-French-housewife thing occasionally seems like a bit of a cliché, Godrèche plays her with such a sleepy-cat ease that she still seems like a whole person, and an excellent foil to Schilling’s uncomfortable-with-her-own-discomfort Emily.

The Overnight was produced by Mark Duplass, among others, and it vibrates with the same kind of darkly funny relationship humor that shades many of Duplass’ films and roles. It’s no Your Sister’s Sister; Brice isn’t quite as deft at pacing or revealing details as Lynn Shelton — at least not yet. The Overnight is full of promise. And prosthetic penises. Come for one, stay for the other. (Bijou Metro)

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