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Aubrey Plaza stars in this baudy, raunchy comedy about nuns who encounter a rather studly “mute” (Dave Franco).

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Director: Jeff Baena
Runtime: 90 minutes
Language: English

Mostlyindies Grading:

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Do not let the habits, or the setting, or the religious imagery fool you. The Little Hours is a rip-roaring, baudy comedy that owes its dues to Woody Allen’s Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex, Mel Brooks movies, and maybe even some early John Waters. Loosely based on Boccaccio’s Decameron, namely the first story of the third day, The Little Hours focuses on the lives of nuns (Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, and Kate Micucci) living in relative serene, religious bliss who encounter a young man (Dave Franco) who’s been taken as an apprentice by their priest (John C Reilly). The young man had escaped certain death by his master (Nick Offerman) who caught him having sex with his wife (Lauren Weedman, who’s gone too soon from the film and boasts some razor-sharp scenes with Offerman) and wanted him dead. The priest has decided to have him work in their convent and learn from his sins without knowing that the nuns who live under his roof are not the typical, God-fearing type but strikingly savvy and in need of a man to satisfy their passions. For its brief run — the movie itself is a mere 90 minutes from opening to closing credits — The Little Hours is a laugh a minute riot and manages to throw everything at the audience, from ferocious verbal assaults in modern speech by the nuns themselves to some truly off-the-wall performances by all involved, and even when the entire thing starts to wear just a shade thin — because how long can you keep the crazy running at all cylinders before something starts to give –, this is a solidly entertaining little comedy that will erase all  your momentary troubles away and even boasts a little gravitas underneath its farcical exterior, as we get to see a picture of how difficult it was for women to live back in the 1300s. Go see this one — it’s a shot of fresh air.


1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5)


Reader, where do I begin? I’m still reeling over the sheer awfulness of Luca Guadagnino’s mediation on ex-lovers, gender politics, and something vaguely resembling a romance. Remember a little-known playwright called William Shakespeare? Him. Well, he basically wrote the book on partner-swapping in his comedies and did so much better. Even Woody Allen has managed to produce interesting reflections on the nature of relationships between men and women and the consequences they engender. This, on the other hand . . .

The trailer promises and delivers nothing that it winks at the audience it will deliver. From the opening shot of Tilda Swinton, a rock star reflecting on stage in what seems David Bowie drag, followed by her and Matthias Schoenaerts laying on the beach as they get a call from Ralph Fiennes who is popping for a visit (and you see a shadow of a plane about to land as to drive the point home), to an awkward sequence where the twosome get introduced to Fiennes’ daughter in the film played by Dakota Johnson, you get a general idea that perhaps this will be something screwball-ish, rather flighty, with misunderstandings left and right and perhaps a couple of sex scenes along the way for good measure. I mean, they are in a secluded Italian island in the middle of a vacation, might as well make the best of it and pretend nothing ever happened, right?

Wrong. From the moment Fiennes enters the picture, it’s as if he had in mind he had to ham it up to almost extreme lengths to make his older stud-character register. Reader, it’s painful. The harakiri would have been an act of mercy. Seeing Fiennes, still remarkably fit, make a fool of himself at every turn and inhabit a character who is deluded as to the extent he relates to the others is just torture. Consider it an act of an old peacock macho-ing it up in an extended mating dance that clearly provokes some quiet seething from Schoenaerts who takes a secondary seat and inexplicably allows Fiennes to take center stage as if it were better that way. Meanwhile, Swinton, who’s rock star persona in the movie is recovering from a throat operation, can’t speak but in whispers, and even that is an effort. All she can do is react in various degrees of passivity while both men circle each other, each trying to claim their ground, neither backing up.

And Dakota Johnson? She’s merely skin decoration. She gets in one or two lines pregnant with innuendo, but that’s all her character is: a tease. Guadagnino plays her like a card held very close to his chest, and some late-story revelations don’t really do much more than cement how unnecessary her character truly is to the story, but to supply a motive for a completely out of the blue catharsis that . . . well. You’d have to see this mess to see where I’m getting at.

A Bigger Splash boasts an inexplicable title that narrates a story that doesn’t seem to have any real direction other than to force some events to come together and perhaps shed light on the consequences of giving into temptation. I wish that somehow some narration choices would have been less indulgent. Guadagnino’s film had the potential to play with the original material it’s based on — Jacques Deray’s La Piscine. Tragically it all but dissipates any sense of tension in lieu of lingering shots of beach, scenery, food preparing, snakes, Fiennes diving into the pool, Fiennes dancing, Fiennes basically chewing sccenery, which makes this movie almost insufferable. At least Schoenaerts boasts some incredible pectorals. That at least prevented me from stabbing my eyes out.