Parties that go wildly out of control are a cinematic staple, but they’re usually a good bit larger than the party at the center of The Overnight. Still, The Overnight manages to take its small party of two couples and shift the intimate dinner party, which doubles as a playdate for their kids, into an all-night series of decadent events. It’s an unusual mix of outrageous behavior and sincere moments that render its four central characters as simultaneously broad and nuanced.
Having arrived in Los Angeles without knowing anyone, Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) find themselves pleasantly surprised when they’re greeted at the park by Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), the father of a child engaging with their son. Kurt comes across as intense, with a bit of a hipster streak, but he’s nice, so the couple accepts his invitation to dinner. The night starts off pleasantly, with Kurt and his French-born wife, Charlotte (Judith Godrèche), dutifully entertaining Alex and Emily. Once the kids have been put to bed, though, the evening quickly takes a not-so-subtle turn, beginning with Charlotte putting her hand on Alex’s knee. In short order, Kurt is convincing Alex to pose for one of his series of paintings of anuses, while Charlotte is showing Emily her proclivity for providing happy endings at a massage parlor. By the time Kurt suggests they all go skinny-dipping in the pool, Alex and Emily have to decide if they want to follow along, and if a desire to not continue makes them seem old.
There’s plenty of cringe-worthy comedy wrung from the film’s setpieces, but they’re matched with very real emotions from the characters. Most notably, Alex is reluctant to get naked in the pool because he’s not all that well-endowed – a concern that intensifies when it’s revealed that Kurt is most definitely well-endowed. While this is played for laughs, including a scene where Alex and Kurt engage in a naked dance (complete with prosthetics), it’s also played with empathy for Alex’s concerns. And the fairly obvious goal of Kurt and Charlotte to get Alex and Emily into bed, while painted broadly (and hilariously), ultimately is revealed in an emotionally raw scene that addresses everyone’s needs and concerns. The resulting reaction is one of the more surprising I can remember seeing, and it feels surprisingly genuine to what’s come before. It’s a well achieved conclusion to a tumultuous evening.