Review: Schwartzman and Scott shine in deeply uncomfortable ‘The Overnight’

One of the things that I noticed during my married years was just how hard it can be for a couple to meet another adult couple they can spend time with socially. There were plenty of couples we knew, but that was because I was friends with someone in that couple before they were in that relationship. Most of our friends were my friends who she met through me, or friends of hers that I met through her. There was really only one couple that we met during our entire marriage where we clicked completely and they became basically family to us.

It started when they moved into the apartment directly across from ours. Right around the time we found out we were having our first child, they found out they were expecting as well. We started out chatting about that, and then little by little realized how much we all got along, and by the time our kids were born, they were absolutely part of our lives. They live in Alabama now, and one of the strangest parts of our divorce last year was thinking about how we won't have that experience again. I'll see them, and I'm sure she'll see them, but part of what was great was the way it felt to hang out with them together, with all of the kids. It was invaluable, and I felt like a big part of what made it work was that we all understood where we were as people and as parents and as adults.

“The Overnight,” written and directed by Patrick Brice, is smart and insightful about the dynamics of marriage and the strange difficulty of finding a couple you can relax with, and it features razor-sharp performances from Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, and Judith Godreche. While the film is often very funny, I think it's after something very true, and something I haven't really seen in a film before, and it makes two films in a row for Brice that have surprised me in terms of tone and content.

Alex (Scott) and Emily (Schilling) are new to the area, trying to settle in, and they take their kid to the park for the afternoon. That's where they meet Kurt (Schwartzman) and Charlotte (Godreche), who seem at first glance to be pretty much every young hipster LA couple from every joke anyone could ever make about this city. What makes Brice's film so good is the way it starts with those surfaces and then spends the entire film peeling them back. The kids have so much fun playing in the park (or at least don't fight, which is the most you can hope for sometimes with kids) that Kurt and Charlotte invite Alex and Emily to come back to their house for dinner. When things continue to go well, Kurt and Charlotte suggest that they put the kids to bed and then continue the evening.

If you suspect things get weird from there, you're right, but the film never makes the obvious move regarding what unfolds. One of the things that is immediately clear is that both Kurt and Charlotte enjoy pushing boundaries, whether in the form of Kurt's sexually suggestive paintings or Charlotte's “modeling videos,” and both Schilling and Scott are exquisite at pouring on the squirm as they try to figure out what the game is. Adam Scott's been playing characters like this and refining his comic timing, but what makes this stand out is the raw reality of what he's playing. Schilling, who is so good on “Orange Is The New Black,” is a perfect match for Scott, and one of the things I really liked about the way the film is written and the way they play these roles is that these two people genuinely love each other. There is understanding, and there is listening, and there is support, and even when things get weird, these people are talking to each other. This movie may be broad and outrageous in some ways, but this is what a married couple should be, and that makes all the difference in the way something like this plays.

Scott and Schwartzman also have a very particular chemistry, and while we've seen both of them do variations on these characters before, they haven't bounced off of each other before, and there's this great sense of two guys really testing each other that makes for a great comedic energy. By the time the film reaches what feels like an inevitable conclusion, there's a moment of real honesty, something that happens between the characters, that says everything to me about Brice as a filmmaker. This is a guy who cares about his characters, and who seems willing to follow them wherever they're going to take him. Between “Creep” and “The Overnight,” this is a filmmaker I plan to pay attention to whenever he works, and I'd encourage you to check this out if you're looking for some grown-up laughs you can feel good about.

“The Overnight” is in theaters Friday.