‘The Little Hours’ Movie Review

The Little Hours (2017)

The Little Hours

Photo courtesy of Gunpowder and Sky Pictures

When we first see Sister Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), a nun, she is leading a donkey across a path in the woods in the early morning. Her habit is in her hands, and it looks as if she has done this many times. She leads the donkey across a meadow to some sort of enclosure. Now with her habit on she leads the donkey through a gate and to a corral. Sister Genevra (Kate Micucci) comes up to Fernanda and discusses how and why the donkey is getting out. A gardener stops to say good morning to the sisters, and they turn and start yelling and cursing at him to never talk or look at them.

We cut to a group of sisters going into a church as a bell rings in the tower. They are greeted by the Mother Superior (Molly Shannon), and then we see Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) who conducts a service for the sisters. After service, Mother Superior questions Fernanda about why she wasn’t at morning prayers, and they discuss the donkey situation. We then meet Sister Alessandra (Alison Brie), who is doing embroidery, but you can tell her heart isn’t in it as she stops and looks out the window daydreaming. We next see Sisters Genevra and Fernanda are washing linen and gossiping about Sister Alessandra. We later see Sister Genevra telling the Mother Superior about several things that the other sisters are doing.

The Little Hours

Photo courtesy of Gunpowder & Sky

Sister Alessandra gets a visit from her father (Paul Reiser), and they do some small talk, then he breaks the news that things are not going well, and they do not have the money for a dowry. He suggests that her life in the nunnery will be permanent, leaving his daughter in tears. We next see Sisters Fernanda, Genevra and Alessandra walking past the garden. They notice that the gardener is looking at them. They start yelling at him, then led by Sister Alessandra they go into the garden and start Aubrey Plaza assaulting him. Father Tommasso is about to leave to sell the linen and embroidery at the market when the gardener quits.

We cut to a castle where the master of the house, Lord Bruno (Nick Offerman) is telling his wife Marta (Jemima Kirke) a long reason why they are about to lose everything. She isn’t interested in listening to her husband but more about making eyes with one of the servants, Massetto (Dave Franco) as he keeps filling her goblet with wine. We cut to Massetto and Marta in bed, talking about her husband after they have had sex. Lord Bruno comes into the room, and Massetto is able to just escape. Later, Massetto, having been caught several times by the Lord, decides to run away, rather than suffer the wrath of his lord. Massetto, Father Tommasso, and the sisters are about to meet, and it’s going to be very interesting how Massetto fits into the life of nunnery.

The Little Hours

Photo courtesy of Gunpowder & Sky

From when at the start of the movie the two nuns shout obscenities at the gardener for looking at them, you know that we’re not watching an ordinary movie about nuns in the 1500’s. Based loosely (I would say very loosely) on the 14th century set of short stories by Giovanni Boccaccio, the film, while based in Tuscany in the 14th century, the language and actions of the inhabitants of this movie are more like a sitcom on HBO. The language is modern, bawdy and often vulgar with the dialogue mostly improvised. The characters seem to want to sleep with as many people as they can, and they do. They don’t let a little thing like chastity and a bond to the church stop them from having a great time.

The Little Hours

Photo courtesy of Gunpowder & Sky

The film has plenty to work with, and the stellar cast is up to the task. Molly Shannon is silly and amusing as the Mother Superior who lusts after Father Tommasso, played by a deadpanned John C. Reilly. Nick Offerman plays the lord who has been cuckolded by Dave Franco’s servant and is out for blood. Offerman has a hilarious scene where he is giving his wife a grim outlook on how everyone is out to get them. Aubrey Plaza is a lustful nun who has a mouth like a steelworker and won’t hesitate to use violence to get her way. Plaza runs with the role and gives the film its energy with an almost hyper performance. Kate Micucci is the nun who will tell on someone at a moment’s notice, and while she lusts for sex, she doesn’t quite know how to get it. Alison Brie, as the nun who just wants to get married and Dave Franco, the servant who only wants to survive, is the heart of the film. The two have great chemistry together, and Brie comedic timing is spot on. The smart cast is filled out by stellar actors such as Paul Reiser as Alessandra’s selfish father, Fred Armisen as the self-important Bishop and Jemima Kirke as a mysterious woman who is a friend of Aubrey Plaza’s Sister Fernanda.

Writer/director Jeff Baena keeps the film moving at a quick pace which helps us look over some of the spots of the movie that doesn’t quite mesh, sometimes due to the improvised dialogue. The soundtrack of mostly period music by Dan Romer and cinematography by Quyen Tran, add to the ambiance of the film. The Little Hours is a comedy that pushes the boundaries, like a Monty Python film for 2017. Like Python, the comedy doesn’t always work but don’t worry; there will be something new and hilarious right around the corner.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee

My movie rating system from Best to Worst:  1). I Would Pay to See it Again  2). Full Price  3). Bargain Matinee  4). Cable  5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again

The Little Hours Website

The film is playing in Atlanta exclusively at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema

For more of Mike’s reviews and interviews click here

 

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