CUFF ’17 Review: The Little Hours

Medieval nuns Alessandra (Alison Brie), Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), and Ginevra (Kate Micucci) lead a simple life in their convent. Their days are spent chafing at monastic routine, spying on one another, and berating the estate’s day labourer. After a particularly vicious insult session drives the peasant away, Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) brings on new hired hand Massetto (Dave Franco), a virile young servant forced into hiding by his angry lord. Introduced to the sisters as a deaf-mute to discourage temptation, Massetto struggles to maintain his cover as the repressed nunnery erupts in a whirlwind of pansexual horniness, substance abuse, and wicked revelry.

At a runtime of 90 minutes, The Little Hours is an enjoyable watch. The film is at its best when director Jeff Baena allows the cast to play to their strengths. Aubrey Plaza playing the foul mouthed nun, Kate Micucci playing the awkward nun, and Alison Brie playing the goody two-shoes nun who rebels. The film provides enough laughs throughout the film to make it worthwhile while never becoming a full blown raunchfest. The story has a lot to offer which is unfortunate as the film only scratches the surface of what they could have expanded on.

The majority of the cast are playing 14th century versions of themselves but that doesn’t seem to be a problem at all. Dave Franco plays Massetto, the man on the run that becomes a deaf-mute maintenance man around the convent. His back and forth dialogue with John C Reilly is outrageous as they get drunk off of the Lord’s wine. Nick Offerman provides us with some easy laughs as he trots around in curled locks and a dark beard. Molly Shannon offers credibility as the head sister who is tasked with wrangling up the mischievous nuns. Fred Armisen pops by for a few scenes as the Bishop who comes to the convent while chaos ensues. Though briefly in the film, Armisen manages to get the biggest laughs as he shames the nefarious nuns for their sins.

The Little Hours is a ridiculous idea that doesn’t make any jabs at the religion itself but instead comes straight from The Decameron. The film gets laughs at a convincing rate but doesn’t have enough gut busters to push it to the next level. The film could have benefitted from expanding more on the era and location instead of depending just on the profanity riddled rants of the nuns. Though a comedy, the movie features an enchanting score and wide, vast shots of the beautiful locations they had to work with in Italy. Director Jeff Baena takes advantage of his cast of comedic talents as he lets them do their own thing. The Sundance hit The Little Hours is an amusing watch thanks to the concept and the cast provided.

Rating: 8/10

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