Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Little Hours

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

Never have the Middle Ages been so gutbustingly hilarious.

The Little Hours has broken through boundaries that many comedies haven't broken recently, primarily religion. And those boundaries aren't just broken. Those boundaries are shattered again & again into millions of pieces by a 40-foot wrecking ball. And every single broken boundary is more hilarious than the last.

Loosely, & I really mean loosely, based on the 14th century novella collection The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, the film takes place at an Italian convent in the 14th century. The film mainly focuses on three nuns at the convent: Sister Alessandra (played by Alison Brie); Sister Fernanda (played by Aubrey Plaza); & Sister Ginerva (played by Kate Micucci). The three of them mainly spend their time gossiping about people, yearning to be with men, & verbally & physically accosting the gardener. And the three of them couldn't be more different: Alessandra is rich, preppy, & yearns to be taken away by her father, Ilario (played by Paul Reiser); Fernanda is vile & crazy; & Ginerva is somewhat childlike. However, they are all extremely emotionally unstable

Meanwhile, Masseto (played by Dave Franco), lives at a castle where he is a servant to Lord Buono (played by Nick Offerman) & his wife, Francesca (played by Lauren Weedman). Lord Buono primarily rants on & on about how the Guelphs are ruining everything, & when he doesn't do that, he verbally abuses his wife. In secret, Masseto has been having an affair with Francesca; however, when he is caught, Masseto flees, knowing that if Lord Buono finds him, he will be tortured in many vile yet humorous ways.

Thankfully, Masseto runs into Father Tommasso (played by John C. Reilly), the chronically drunk pastor of the convent, who is also involved in an affair with Sister Marea (played by Molly Shannon). Tommasso offers to have him stay at the convent as a handyman, but on one condition: Masseto must pretend to be deaf & mute, so as to not attract the nuns.

And so, Masseto begins to work as a handyman. But the women all begin to fall for him in their own way: Alessandra is infatuated with him; Fernanda wants to have sex with him while holding a knife to his throat; & Ginerva just likes him. But when Fernanda's friend Marta (played by Jemima Kirke) arrives, things become even crazier, just in time for Bishop Bartolomeo (played by Fred Armisen) to come to the convent & see how emotionally unstable the convent has become.

The cast is one of the best ever in a comedy. Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza & Kate Micucci are hilarious as the three nuns, while Dave Franco is building up his status as an excellent comedic actor. And John C. Reilly, Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon & Fred Armisen, who are some of the funniest actors alive, do some of their best work here. This may just be the best cast of the year.

Jeff Baena's direction is excellent. In a lesser director's hands, this wouldn't have been as funny. But with Baena at the helm, he takes what could've felt like a stretched-out sketch & makes it fit perfectly as a feature-length film.

His screenplay is also brilliant. The dialogue is some of the funniest in a long time, & the characters he has created are so crazily hilarious.

Quyen Tran's cinematography is amazing. For a comedy, this film is excellently shot, & the film is filled with amazing shots of the Italian landscape.

And Dan Romer's score is sublime. The acoustic guitar-driven score exhibits a calm mood, juxtaposing the craziness exhibited by the characters.

This is one of the best films of the year so far, & it's one of the funniest films I've ever seen. It goes to hilariously offensive comedic depths that many films haven't gone to recently.

The Little Hours was seen by me at the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, MI on Friday, August 4, 2017. It is in 2 theaters in the Detroit area: the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, MI; & the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, MI. Its runtime is 90 minutes, & it is rated R for graphic nudity, sexual content & language.

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