Nearly 50 years ago, in “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,” two seemingly hip couples dabbled in wife swapping, only to find that despite the love beads and bell bottoms they remained hopelessly old school in sexual matters.
Things haven’t changed all that much.
In “The Overnight” married transplants to Los Angeles meet an intriguing couple and spend a night drinking, hot tubbing and flirting with disaster.
Writer/director Patrick Brice delivers an uncomfortable comedy that suggests that old-time morality still has us in its clutches and isn’t letting go any time soon.
Alex and Emily (Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling), only recently arrived from Seattle, are wondering if they will ever make new friends in the City of Angels. They get their answer in a park playground where their young son hits it off with another little boy.
This kid’s dad is Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), a funny, suave and deeply eccentric fellow who invites the newcomers over to the house. The kids can play, the grownups can get to know one another.
Think of it as a long night’s journey into monogamy. But not without some major temptations and digressions.
The flamboyant, self-assured Kurt and his gorgeous French wife Charlotte (Judith Godreche) have a fantastic house with pool, hot tub and seemingly inexhaustible wine cellar.
Kurt is some kind of entrepreneur, but his real love is painting massive canvasses of supernovas that resemble Georgia O’Keefe flowers. Turns out that these are colorful abstractions of human anuses — and Kurt is always looking for new models.
Charlotte is a stay-at-home mom, although she moonlights as a masseuse. She used to be an actress of sorts — her sole credits are in instructional videos for a breast pump invented by Kurt. Apparently her topless demonstration of the product has made these shorts films big hits with a certain class of Scandinavian men.
“This is California. Maybe this is what dinner parties are like,” Alex suggests.
Fueled by vino and other inhibition-eroding substances — and with the two little boys sleeping soundly — the evening progresses to skinny dipping (Alex is reluctant to participate because of his small penis, especially after Kurt reveals a behemoth trouser mouse).
There’s less than meets the eye here — “The Overnight” can’t decide if conventional middle-class attitudes are reassuring or smothering — but there’s no denying the pleasure of the performances.
I was particularly taken with Schilling (star of Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black”), who can say more with subtle expression than with a big laugh line. And Schwartzman does a nice job of mining the quiet desperation beneath Kurt‘s Eurotrash self assurance.