For Reel

The Little Hours (2017)
August 17, 2017, 3:04 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Jeff Baena
4.5 Stars
The Little Hours.jpgIn The Little Hours, the deadpan 21st century comic sensibilities of performers like Aubrey Plaza, Nick Offerman, and Fred Armisen meet Giovanni Boccaccio’s 14th century folktale The Decameron. Modern comedy has navigated these grounds before—David Gordon Green’s Your Highness and Harold Ramis’ Year One played with period conventions and ultimately ranked as colossal misfires—but writer/director Jeff Baena wisely uses the anachronism to poke fun at the antiquated philosophies and hypocrisies of the Catholic church. Moreover, Baena understands the material’s potential as modern sex farce (Aubrey Plaza seducing a man with a knife to his throat is a perfect encapsulation of the studio system’s dual casting of her as seductress and nihilist), and in doing so deals with women as having a sexual hunger not often acknowledged in contemporary films. If the film rests on the appeal of a single joke (the contrast between modern actors and 14th-century sensibilities), it is one that always lands—The Little Hours is a revitalization of the Mel Brooks comedy, and it is a delight to see comedians as talented as these work for a director who clearly has a real, precise vision.