Right from the jump, The Overnight lays out how odd things can get in the bedroom for married couples. The movie begins with Alex (Parks and Recreation straight man Adam Scott) and Emily (Orange is the New Black star Taylor Schilling) getting in a quick one before they start the day. It’s far from titillating, as an on-the-bottom Emily asks Alex for “bigger circles” and the whole thing ends with them pleasuring themselves before their little boy comes in and ruins the magic.
Sexual awkwardness among people bonded in holy matrimony is the running theme of this recent Sundance fave, written and directed by Patrick Brice (Creep) and produced by discomfort-loving indie filmmaker Mark Duplass (who’s been down this road many times in films he and his brother, Jay, have directed).
New to the L.A. area, Alex and Emily set up a playdate with fellow parent and ultra-hipster Kurt (Jason Schwartzman, of course). At his tony abode, they’re greeted at the door by Charlotte (Judith Godrèche), Kurt’s foxy French wife, and are immediately won over by the sophisticated, bohemian surroundings.
But when the kids go to beddy-bye land, that’s when the fun starts for the couples. Kurt pulls out the bong and encourages some skinny-dipping in the pool. This throws the uptight Alex and Emily for a loop, especially because Alex has some embarrassing (and guffaw-inducing) body issues he would rather not share with their new friends.
As the night goes on, The Overnight becomes a will-they-or-won’t-they bedroom farce where two couples dance around how far they’re willing to go. The movie is nearly engulfed by sexual tension; whenever any two characters of any gender combination are in a scene, the sense that it could result in some freaky-sneaky action always lingers.
But it isn’t just foreplay for an orgiastic climax. Brice and his game foursome (especially Scott and Schwartzman, who both spend chunks of the movie letting it all hang out, figuratively and literally) present an occasionally over-the-top but ultimately endearing look at how, for married couples, staying sexually attractive to each other can be a desperate, ongoing struggle. Painful secrets often have to be revealed. Walls have to come down. Strange shit has to happen. A knock-around sex comedy where the actual act is hardly the point, The Overnight shows that wedded bliss can also be a rough, raunchy trip.
This article appeared in print with the headline “Revel in the Details.”