Chicago Critics Film Festival 2017: The Little Hours
By Andrea Thompson
Yeah, nuns swearing and acting crazy during the Middle Ages is pretty funny. But “The Little Hours” needs more than an admittedly fun, creative setting to be good, which writer-director Jeff Baena doesn't provide. The nuns, played by hilarious, excellent actresses like Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, and Kate Micucci, are clearly repressed and chafing under the restrictions of convent life, and they act out by berating each other and the convent's laborer. When they drive him away, they get a hot new replacement, Dave Franco, who is fleeing from his previous employer, played by Nick Offerman, after getting caught with Offerman's wife. Franco's presence throws the nuns' lives into a predictable tailspin, one that does them few favors. Baena seems to think that making women unpleasant is equivalent to empowerment. But these women are given little to do but skip to one crazy situation after another, which usually revolves around men and the danger they represent to them. There is no effort to explore their inner lives, which makes “The Little Hours” seem less like a movie than a series of outrageous comedy sketches, with little logic or order to them. These women don't seem to respect or like anyone, not even each other, making it hard to get invested in them. While they do get most of the film's lines and do a good job with what they're given, there's no doubt as to who the movie's really concerned with. “The Little Hours” wraps up not when the female leads find their happy endings, but when the male leads do.