The Guardian has reviewed The Little Hours and gave the movie 3 out 5 stars. I can’t wait to see this movie!
Read the review and watch the trailer below:
Rather like 2011’s Your Highness, the initial gimmick proudly, even boastfully, revealed in The Little Hours is based on the notion that medieval characters can be just as puerile as their contemporary counterparts. Within seconds of the titles ending, 14th-century nuns are swearing, shouting, vandalizing and attacking any local man naive enough to look their way. But the test here – and it’s one that Danny McBride’s misjudged comic fantasy failed at – is whether the film can sustain itself beyond mere shock value.
It’s Garfagnana, 1347 and at a remote convent, where three young nuns are all struggling with the restrictions of their setting. Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza) is sour-faced, curse-spewing and trouble-making; Alessandra (Alison Brie) has been forced by her rich father to choose a life of embroidery and celibacy over romance; and Geneva (Kate Micucci) is a sexually confused and desperately bored gossip. After handsome young gardener Massetto (Dave Franco) starts working alongside them, their behavior spirals out of control.
It’s difficult not to gain at least a smidgen of pleasure from seeing Plaza – finally finding her big-screen footing with this and pitch-black Instagram comedy Ingrid Goes West – as a foul-mouthed nun causing mayhem. It’s hardly a stretch, playing into her skill for eye-rolling comic turns, but she remains for now an unusually compelling presence, her constant death stare and endless flow of fucks wonderfully contrasted with the primness of her habit.
The film around her is fit to burst with other actors also equipped with considerable comic talents. Aside from the aforementioned Brie, enjoying a career boost with standout Netflix show GLOW, and her off-screen husband Franco there’s John C Reilly as the drunkard father overseeing the convent, Molly Shannon as his female equivalent, Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman as a short-tempered cuckold, Girls’ Jemima Kirke as a rebellious local and Saturday Night Live alumnus Fred Armisen as a visiting bishop. If anything, there are almost too many funny people in an 85-minute film that doesn’t really have the capacity to give even half of them enough time to shine (Shannon is particularly, regrettably wasted).
It’s loosely based on parts of a 14th-century collection of Italian novellas called The Decameron, and there’s a shaggy, improvised feel to the film which at times feels fresh, given the setting, and at others gives it a feather-light flimsiness. The plot is a rambling, farcical mess, its shortfalls made particularly clear in a rushed finale, but it’s secondary to the frequently amusing interplay between the leads, all taking it in turns to be pretty, cruel and/or debauched.
The upside of the film’s short length is that the novelty of watching nuns drop F-bombs and converse in a modern manner doesn’t wear off. It does at times feel like an extended Saturday Night Live skit but the cast make it a worthwhile curio, and writer/director Jeff Baena, also Plaza’s off-screen partner, has an assured hand, giving the film a surprising visual polish.
It’s an amusing watch but one that’s unlikely to linger in anyone’s memory past the end credits, its curse-strewn vigor a short, occasionally sharp rush that’ll sober audience members up by the time they’re home.