In the Middle Ages, a young servant fleeing from his master takes refuge at a convent full of emotionally unstable nuns. Introduced as a deaf mute man, he must fight to hold his cover as the nuns try to resist temptation.
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On the run from the battle-seasoned Lord Bruno for sleeping with his wife, the handsome and willing servant, Massetto, flees to the safety of the woods during the warm and peaceful summer of 1347. There, after a chance encounter with the always boozy but merciful Father Tommasso, the young charmer will find refuge into his convent's sanctuary, on one condition: to pretend he is a deaf-mute. However, Massetto's tempting presence will unavoidably upset the already frail balance of things within the sexually-repressed female realm, as nun after nun desperately seeks an escape from their tedious way of life and an extra reason to molest the charming handyman. In the end, will those cloistered Sisters finally find out what they had been missing out on all these years?Written by
"The Little Hours" (2017 release; 90 min.) brings the story of a group of nuns in a small convent. As the movie opens, we are reminded it is "Garfagnana 1347", and we watch as the nuns go about their daily tasks and deal with their frustrations. Meanwhile, the handyman at a nearby castle is found out to be cheating with his master's wife, and as luck would have it, he ends up being hired by the priest running the convent. It's not long before some of the nuns have "impure thoughts"... To tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: the movie is very loosely based on/inspired by the book "The Decameron" by Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio (and source for the infamous 1971 movie of the same name by Pier Paolo Pasolini). Writer-director Jeff Baena takes a couple of the dozens of tales found in that book, and builds a script around it that is intended to showcase several of the actresses playing the nuns, including Alison Brie and Audrey Plaza (the latter also being a co-producer). The handyman is portrayed by Dave Franco (brother of James Franco, and looking remarkably similar). It took my quite a while to get into the flow of the movie, as at first we're not sure what to make of all this (the F-bomb laced outbursts, for one). Is this even comedy? If so, it's certainly one with a heavy twist of semi-absurd Monty Python-inspired comedy. The movie really hits its stride in the second half, where there are some memorable scenes (the "confession" taken by the priest of the handyman truly is a classic). The priest is played hilariously by John C. Reilly, who seems to revel in this part. Given that I had no idea in the initial 20 min. whether I would even stay through the end of the movie, that is quite remarkable!
"The Little Hours" premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival to positive buzz, and so when it finally opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, it was a given that I would check it our. The Sunday evening screening where I saw this at was attended nicely, somewhat to my surprise. Maybe people will find this a quirky little comedy. For me it was a bit too much all over the map, even if the second half is markedly better than the first half. In any event, I encourage you to check it out, be it in the theater, on VOD or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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