“I’ve lived many lives,” Jason Schwartzman’s character, Kurt, says at one point in Patrick Brice’s outrageously clever film. “I’ve been born, died, and resurrected so many times, I can’t even tell you, but…can I show you what my passion is now?” Lines like this are what make The Overnight such an indelible satire of the moment it was conceived, capturing uncannily familiar caricatures of people we all know and can easily imagine living somewhere in 2014 post-hipster liberal Los Angeles. Running at an all-too-rare 80 minutes, this limited release sex comedy is a fine example of what can happen when a dose of sardonic intelligence, neon pastel color schemes, and accurate, appropriate contemporary dialogue are added to the dreary romcom recipe.
Although Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling give spot-on performances as a realistically making-it-up-as-they-go millennial married couple, I can’t help but see this film as a showcase for pure, unadulterated Jason Schwartzman. Grown into a cartoonishly confident, artistic variation of his breakthrough Rushmore (1998, Wes Anderson) character, Schwartzman’s performance alone makes The Overnight worth seeing—as a measure of how phenomenally revolting he manages to make the fedora-donning, asshole-painting Kurt, keep track of how many involuntary vocal responses you have to lines like, “The whole water filter thing came from watching the movie The Beach.” The excessive and elaborate details of Kurt’s lifestyle make the influence of the Duplass brothers clear, mirroring the whimsical yet ordinary sensibility of the producers' work in other independent films like The Puffy Chair (2005) and Safety Not Guaranteed (Colin Trevorrow, 2012). It is a credit to the script and ensemble cast that the swinging couple’s wild antics somehow manage to brush the edge of unbelievable while remaining firmly in the realm of totally-conceivable, supported by the apparent innocence in each couple’s response to the other’s way of life.
Often called a modern Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice (Paul Mazursky, 1969), The Overnight earns its title as a sex comedy by the time its final surprising sequence rolls around, but certainly transcends the label with its smart vision of contemporary decadence and intimacy. In an age soon to be run by a generation told they were special and could do anything they wanted when they grew up, this film poses questions of entitlement, excess, and self-fulfillment in a 21st-century relationship, and how to strike that healthy balance between stepping beyond your comfort zone and maintaining some semblance of sanity.
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