The Overnight (2015)

The Overnight (2015)
  • Time: 80 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Mystery
  • Director: Patrick Brice
  • Cast: Taylor Schilling, Adam Scott, Jason Schwartzman


Alex, Emily, and their son, RJ, are new to Los Angeles. A chance meeting at the park introduces them to the mysterious Kurt, Charlotte, and Max. A family “playdate” becomes increasingly interesting as the night goes on.

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  • It all starts off so innocently. Well, not quite. The first sounds you hear are Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) in mid-coitus, tossing off dirty talk amidst the grunts and groans before breaking apart to finish themselves off individually. Full satisfaction is denied, however, as their little boy bursts into their bedroom moments later, effectively putting an end to adult time.

    Their sexual life is not the only thing in a state of disarray. Newly transplanted to Los Angeles from Seattle, the couple have barely unboxed their belongings. Stay-at-home dad Alex worries about meeting new people, but working mom Emily assures him that everything she needs to be happy is under their roof. Still, there is more than a flicker of gratitude when the parent of a child that their son has befriended on the playground strikes up a conversation with them.

    His name is Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), and he is a confident chatterbox, convincing them to join his family for their regular pizza night at home. Alex and Emily hesitate at first – they have known Kurt for a mere five minutes – but accept his invitation. After all, they reason, best case scenario: they make new friends. Worst case scenario: they have a boring night and go home early. As the title of the film suggests, there may be a third scenario.

    Kurt lives in a beautiful home with his beautiful wife Charlotte (Judith Godrèche), who is French and prone to casually flung statements like, “Only in America do we let children dictate when the night is over.” More details are nonchalantly revealed: Kurt and Charlotte are teaching Spanish to their son in anticipation of some work in Ecuador; he designed their home after Charlotte’s childhood house in France and then proceeded to build it himself; she used to be an actress and is currently a masseuse; he’s developed a water filtration system that’s already installed in several countries; he’s also a photographer and painter whose latest series, “Portals,” consists of close-ups of anal sphincters (“Guess which one is mine,” Kurt tells Alex); she has her own separate bedroom in which “there are things I do…that no one needs to know about.” Kurt and Charlotte’s worldliness and tactile connection shine a light on Alex and Emily’s relatively conservative and nondescript relationship, but as the night unfolds and more alcohol is consumed and more marijuana is inhaled, inhibitions are loosened and soon clothes are being shed and boundaries crossed.

    Fear and fascination often combine for a potent cocktail and The Overnight mines both comedy and insight from those emotions and essentially functions as a raunchier version of Paul Mazursky’s 1969 couple-swapping dramedy, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. Writer-director Patrick Brice often subverts our expectations even as what is anticipated is exactly what is delivered. Brice is certainly unafraid to escalate the sometimes creepy, always weird vibe that perfumes the proceedings. Emily, concerned there might be an ulterior motive behind Kurt and Charlotte’s friendliness, urges Alex to end the night before anything crazy happens. Because somehow seeing Charlotte’s bare breasts used to demonstrate a breast pump or Kurt swinging his massive penis around or Alex confessing his insecurities about his genital shortcomings (“But it does circles, so it’s okay,” he snorts at Emily) before being encouraged by Kurt to strip down and own his minuscule manhood all fall within the realm of normal.

    The sexual roundelay does allow Brice to tap, a little more than superficially, into the conundrum of desire, which has the tendency to dissipate once familiarity calcifies. Alex and Emily may genuinely be content with their status quo, but would they act on their impulses if given the chance? Kurt and Charlotte perhaps have gone a little further in their exploits, but his wife’s willingness to try everything and anything doesn’t prevent Kurt from feeling dissatisfied about having sex with the same woman for so many years.

    The entire cast is aces but Schwartzman is the undisputed MCP. One doubts the film would have even worked were it not for the skillful mix of sweetness, unpredictability, eccentricity, and vulnerability he displays as both seducer and seduced.

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