The Lit­tle Hours

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO - — Jonathan Richards

Maybe this is what the 14th cen­tury felt like. Loosely based on Boc­cac­cio’s The De­cameron, or bits of it, writer and di­rec­tor Jeff Baena brings us a broadly comic tale of me­dieval nuns with very mod­ern mouths, and lusty loins as well.

The story be­gins on two fronts. At the con­vent, over­seen by Molly Shannon’s Sis­ter Marea and John C. Reilly’s Fa­ther Tom­masso, we meet nuns Alessan­dra, Fer­nanda, and Ginevra (Ali­son Brie, Aubrey Plaza, and Kate Micucci, re­spec­tively), who pull turnips, wash clothes, and fly into such parox­ysms of ver­bal and phys­i­cal rage at the hired man (Paul Weitz) that he quits. Mean­while, at the nearby cas­tle of Lord Bruno (Nick Of­fer­man), the ser­vant Mas­setto (Dave Franco) is deep into the pants of Lady Francesca (a won­der­ful Lau­ren Weed­man), mostly at her in­sti­ga­tion. When her hus­band cops to his cuck­oldry, Mas­setto must flee for his life. In the woods, he runs into Fa­ther To­masso, who pro­poses a mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial ar­range­ment: Mas­setto needs a place to hide out, and the con­vent needs a new hired man. And so the two sto­ries merge and become one.

Drop­ping a hunk like Mas­setto into a nun­nery is like blow­ing cat­nip fumes into the fe­line wing of the an­i­mal shel­ter. Fa­ther To­masso has the lad pose as a deaf mute to shield him from ques­tions, but that only adds to the fun as the young nuns pro­ceed to have at him like a toy from a sex shop. With their erotic pulses pound­ing, they also have at each other. And then there’s a witches’ coven, and a wild druggy dance of naked bod­ies around a camp­fire deep in the woods.

There’s a sweet fla­vor of ro­mance be­tween Reilly and Shannon, and a play­ful lusti­ness to the do­ings of the nuns and the handy­man (Franco and Brie are a real-life cou­ple). A few other per­form­ers worth men­tion­ing turn up, in­clud­ing Paul Reiser as a mer­chant ditch­ing his daugh­ter in the con­vent to save on her dowry, Jemima Kirke as a witchily en­chant­ing friend, and Fred Ar­misen as a scan­dal­ized bishop.

If you are not amused by sex­ual com­edy, this would be one to give a wide berth to. Much of the hu­mor is raunchy, and a lot of it comes from the anachro­nis­tic pair­ing of mod­ern at­ti­tudes with me­dieval set­tings. It’s sopho­moric, but then who has more fun with sex than sopho­mores?

The nuns’ story: Dave Franco and Aubrey Plaza

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