Film: The Little Hours

March 17, 2019

In retrospect, I shouldn’t be surprised by how much I enjoyed The Little Hours (2017), a ribald medieval comedy chock full of great comedic talent. Based loosely on The Decameron, the film is about a trio of nuns — Sister Alessandra (Alison Brie), Sister Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), and Sister Genevra (Kate Micucci) — whose quiet, stultifying convent life is disrupted by a young lothario named Massetto (Dave Franco). Massetto, having cuckolded the wealthy Lord Bruno (Nick Offerman), is seeking a place to hide. He finds it by befriending the gentle, boozing Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly), who runs the convent. A series of zany sexual hijinks ensue.

The Little Hours begins in a quiet, mildly amusing way, feeling rather slight and disposable. But as it progresses, its uniquely offbeat, anachronistic humor starts to land more and more often, growing more appealing by the minute. The comic performances are uniformly terrific, from the aforementioned players and others, inclduing Fred Armisen, Adam Pally, and Lauren Weedman. In the end, the film’s quiet, upbeat trajectory lands it in an unexpected feel-good space, using its historical trappings to comment slyly on the absurdities of unhealthy, contemporary viewpoints on sexuality and religion. A modest, surprisingly winning little film.