IN THEATERS (SF) – “The Little Hours”

The Little Hours (2017; Dir.: Jeff Baena)

GRADE: B

By Daniel Barnes

*Opens Friday, July 7, at the Landmark Opera Plaza in San Francisco and the Landmark Shattuck in Berkeley.

More high-concept comedy from Life After Beth director and I Heart Huckabees screenwriter Baena, this time an oddball adaptation of a single story from Boccaccios’s 14th-century literary keystone The Decameron.  Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza and Kate Micucci play lusty young nuns in a remote Italian convent run by Molly Shannon’s repressed mother and John C. Reilly’s drunken priest, while Dave Franco plays a refugee Lothario hiding out as a deaf-mute handyman.  Bawdy encounters abound, and similar to The Beguiled, the mere presence of Franco’s seasoned but repentant lover drives these cloistered women into a heretical heat, leading to an unexpectedly intense scene set during a witches’ ritual.  The deadpan “gag” here: no one from the cast makes any attempt to hide their American accents or potty-mouthed contemporary vernacular, while the warm, burnished images of cinematographer Quyen Tran misleadingly suggest a more traditional take.  There’s not much notable about The Little Hours beyond that irresistible premise,  and yet I was tickled almost the entire time, largely thanks to an ensemble cast utterly committed to making their moments work.