Deadpan Piety: Our Review of ‘The Little Hours’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - July 13, 2017
Deadpan Piety: Our Review of ‘The Little Hours’

A faithful adaptation of ‘The Decameron’ you will not find here. Though that shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the cast of The Little Hours features some great and goofy comic actors like Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Kate Micucci, and John C. Reilly. Oh, and Fred Armisen shows up as an exasperated priest. It’s less about death and disease and faith, and more about being silly.

The three women are nuns in this story set in the 14th century written and directed by Jeff Baena, and they all are having trouble with their faith. Bored and tempted by desire, they spy, tattle, and tease each other. And when a handsome deaf mute comes to be enlisted to help around the estate, they each quickly become enticed.

Of course, Massetto (Dave Franco) is neither deaf or mute. But he fled his home after sleeping with the ruler’s wife, fortuitously running into Father Tommasso (Reilly), who thinks it best for everyone that Massetto doesn’t engage. The sisters after all are prone to aggressive behavior, like shouting people into submission.

This screwball comedy is random and absurd, and the comedy comes inconsistently but intensely. Brie’s nun has a rich father who is having trouble finding a suitor for her; Micucci is nosy and naive; Plaza is sarcastic and sinister. Meanwhile, Sister Marea (Molly Shannon) can’t rein any of them in. And they all want to sleep with the new boy in town: the set up is rich with comedic potential. 

There is revelry and tomfoolery, and few to no lessons learned. The Little Hours is at times hilariously ridiculous, and at others uneventful. And it’s certainly an acquired taste. Mainly though, it’s a cinematic vehicle to put a lot of funny actors in a time and place that offers some instantly visceral laughs. They talk with a modern dialect and lexicon, and more or less play to their standard roles while wearing funny costumes. It was probably a lot more fun to make than watch, but it’s still offers enjoyment if no other emotion.

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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.