In Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young, the creative filmmaker explored the notion of idealism – this muddled perception we have of others, where we wish we could embody seemingly more free-spirited people, the opposites to our mundane selves. People we strive to be more like, but when it comes down to it, we’re generally happier and more content just as we are. It made for comedic, compelling stomping ground, and much of the same has been done in Patrick Brice’s sophomore endeavour, The Overnight.
Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling play Alex and Emily, respectively, who have moved to a new home in Los Angeles with their young son. Intent on making new friends in their area, it doesn’t take long to do so, as the eccentric, quirky Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) approaches them in the park while their two sons are playing together, and invites them round for a spontaneous dinner party with his French wife Charlotte (Judith Godréche). Though initially reluctant, the pair agree – and set off later that evening, though are taken aback at what they find, as they enter into a grandiose mansion. This proves to be just one of many surprises, as they embark on a night they’ll never forget.
While the comedy at times enters into the realm of farce, with surrealism prevalent throughout, the narrative is grounded by the nuances of the four protagonists, who are such well-crafted creations that you grow to know so well without truly knowing anything at all. With distinctive, idiosyncratic traits, these full-bodied creations ensure the audience’s attention never waivers. The themes, steeped in a realism, also help to find a compatible balance between naturalism and overstatement, as we explore sexual desire. Though something of a taboo subject, the idea that when settled down we lose all sexual desire for others is a rather romanticised viewpoint, and one this film defies. It’s a perceptible, and yet uncomforting reality, and will have anybody who has ever been in a long-term relationship wincing in parts, and relating in others.
Coming straight out of the Duplass Brothers school of filmmaking – with the younger sibling Mark an executive producer on this project, it’s that same ability to be subtle and naturalistic, and then wildly over-the-top, all at the same time – this idea of throwing a normal person into abnormal circumstances and watching what happens. It made for brilliant cinema with the likes of The One I Love and Cyrus – and it’s made for captivating, illuminating cinema yet again, with this indelible feature film.