Sydney Film Festival Review: ‘The Little Hours’

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Sydney Film Festival

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This review is part of a wrap from Sydney Film Festival 2017. Read more here.

The crude medieval romp is a genre you don’t see explored that often. That’s probably because the comedic payoff off ye olde swears can greatly vary, often within the same film (see Monty Python’s Holy Grail and Your Highness for, ironically, the highs and lows of the uncrowded field). The latest flick to join the flock is a blessedly consistent outing, eschewing magical quests for the comedy of the mundane. It’s also one of the few to realise there’s something funnier than a knight dropping the ‘f-bomb’: a nun saying “c*nt”.

The Little Hours stars Alison Brie (Community, Mad Men), Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation), and Kate Micucci (Garfunkel and Oates, Don’t Think Twice) as a trio of good, bad, and awkward nuns under the accommodating guidance of church elders Molly Shannon and John C Reilly. Here, they traverse the monotony of service unto the lord, and also ancient laundry regimens.

When panicked hunk Dave Franco (21 Jump Street) must take refuge in the nunnery, after schtooping the Lady of his previous estate, he does so under the guise of a non-speaking deaf person, and the girl’s frustrated tedium finds focus. Here is a temptation just great enough to tip the scale of their already faltering divinity: the perfect combo of voiceless objectification and anachronistic abs. What results is backstabbing, witchery, drug flip-outs and more.

There’s something funnier than a knight dropping the ‘f-bomb’: a nun saying “c*nt”.

After the hullabaloo surrounding the recent Ghostbuster and Wonder Woman films, it seems fair to say that films in this political climate predominately featuring women will be held to weighty symbolic standards. But is it giving this film — which includes a prisoner/dummy switcheroo and a sacramental wine bender — too much credit to say it uses the Porky’s formula of horny hijinks to examine the lack of autonomy in women’s history?

Rather than a crotchety Dean, the nuns in The Little Hours rebel against the rigorous hold of religious patriarchy. In a period-specific peak in a long history that commands women to act, look, and think a certain way, it certainly feels like their complaints are valid.

Peppered with cool comedy cameos (Nick Offerman, Fred Armisen, Adam Pally and more) the film’s consistently funny, and the chemistry between the three leads is a highlight. The Heather-esque hierarchies of high school slowly give way to an all-out femme attack on the system.

Matt Roden hosts the Perfect Pitch podcast, where he and his writer/comedian friends catalogue 100 new ideas for movies so Matt doesn’t get sued by Hollywood.