The Little Hours
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