The Little Hours

Studio: Gunpowder & Sky
Directed by Jeff Baena

Jun 30, 2017 Web Exclusive
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It’s tough marketing movies in 2017, when there’s an avalanche of new films coming to theaters every week and others dropping daily on streaming services and VOD. This is especially true for movies that are a bit left-of-center, which makes the trailers for The Little Hours that much more disappointing. Selling the film as a wacky raunchfest where nuns scream obscenities at each other and passers-by is… not technically false advertising, but mischaracterizes much of what differentiates the film from other modern comedies.

Based on a tale from The Decameron, a collection of 100 novellas written by Giovanni Boccaccio in the mid-14th century, The Little Hours is a farcical comedy about Massetto, a servant on the run after sleeping with his master’s wife. He takes shelter at a convent where the head priest recommends he pass himself off as a deaf mute to minimize his interaction with the nuns. This plan fails to deter sisters Alessandra, Genevra and Fernanda, all of whom are dissatisfied with their lot in life and view this new disruption as a means to create chaos.

The eclectic cast assembled by writer/director Jeff Baena – including his IRL partner Aubrey Plaza and newlyweds Dave Franco and Alison Brie – certainly seems suited to a typical studio comedy. The film features the requisite amount of illicit sex, drug abuse and foul language, but unlike improv-heavy studio films, The Little Hours doesn’t feel like someone cobbled together a funny cast, put them on some sets and just let the cameras roll. Each major character has a distinct emotional arc that is well-drawn and fleshed out by scenes of actual dramatic heft amidst the anachronistic swearing. The rare moments that indulge in improvisational-sounding jokes – specifically Franco’s Massetto confessing increasingly graphic sexual indiscretions to John C. Reilly’s befuddled Father Tommasso – feel like concessions to modern comedic sensibilities and end up being the weak links in what is otherwise a consistently funny ninety minutes. The cast is predictably excellent, although the MVP is Kate Micucci as Sister Genevra. While Brie and Plaza are playing variations on their established personas, Micucci does an excellent job of making the sheltered, self-conscious Genevra feel completely in step with the deranged turn that the character takes in the film’s back half.

Further distancing The Little Hours from standard studio fare is the look Baena and his team bring to the film. Shooting in the Tuscan countryside was smart production move, and not just for the gorgeous views. It lends the film an authenticity that would have been impossible to recreate with California doubling, and goes a long way toward making the whole enterprise feel convincing, despite these characters from 1347 talking like it’s 2017. The wordless opening sequence – featuring Plaza’s Sister Fernanda leading a lost donkey back to the convent – is shockingly pastoral, as though it were the opening to some little-seen Italian gem of the 1970s. It’s a tiny microcosm of the film as a whole, which proves that things can be funny and irreverent as well as visually interesting and thoughtful. 

Author rating: 7/10

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jagun
July 18th 2017
1:30pm

The Little Hours is one of my favorite movie in this 2017 world which i have seen in my UKMovNow App(https://ukmovnow.org/). Ill recommend this app to all my colleagues and watch it in UKMovNow app apk on android and iOS.