The Little Hours (2017)
dir. Jeff Baena
written by: Jeff Baena
starring: Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Kate Micucci, Dave Franco, John C Reilly, Molly Shannon
For a swap into broader spectrums of comedy, The Little Hours discovers the less chaste moments of some Fourteenth century nuns as presented by the filthier comedians of our day. Based on a portion of The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, writer-director Jeff Baena (Life After Beth, writer of I ❤️ Huckabees) pulls a Coppola Marie Antoinette, ignoring the accents and reveling in his vision. When a servant (Dave Franco) goes into hiding at a convent as the deaf-dumb handyman among the nuns, he discovers that prayers are not the only things for which the sisters intend to take a knee.
Producer, actress, and manic demon girl Aubrey Plaza goes all in as Sister Fernanda, unsurprisingly the biggest instigator of the fiendish trio. With Alison Brie as a prim nun craving a suitor and Sapphicly inclined Kate Micucci, God’s brides seek naughtier pleasures with the appearance of a young virile man. This is a full force female empowerment story of sexual validity. Uncomfortable at times, the presence of mind to realize far worse depictions of male-on-female aggression realize the blunt force of The Little Hours.
Plaza is vicious, April Ludgate in a nun’s habit. Her particular brand of exuberance never tires for me. If Lady Susan knew how to offset a suitor in Love & Friendship, Fernanda would convince them to take vows of silence and chastity. Her gentility in solitude is lovely, oddly enough. Brie is a fussy mess; spoiled princesses are her thing. Even when Alessandra rebels, her reaction is reactionary to the more malicious of her cohort. Her timing in her whines wreak the most laughter. “I’m just stuck her with all these bitches and so are you,” she yells at an all-too-aware Franco, and her gasping despair is pathetically hilarious. As she attempts seducing, her stretching is clumsy. Kate Micucci (Ginerva) plays it big, and her sexual awakening is wretched and unflinching. Her tiny frame unhinging at being a nun and suddenly realized lesbian, her attempts at “sin” sought repetition of her more aggressive or pretty sisters. Exploration for her is all consuming and Micucci lays into it.
You shouldn’t go at this aiming for the guys. I’d eat Dave Franco for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but he’s hardly necessary. Nick Offerman is barely there, a cameo where he’s upstaged by Lauren Weedman (Doris from Looking), and John C. Reilly is just drunk. The film is bawdy and gratuitous and a welcome period comedy (not to be confused with menstrual shows) that may be a step too far for the sexually conservative. If you’re fine with brazen nuns, jump in.