The setting for “The Little Hours,” by director Jeff Baena, is in a Medieval convent in a vaguely central European location, where the primary interest revolves around three nuns: Alessandra (Alison Brie), Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), Ginevra (Kate Micucci) and their lives together in sisterly disfunction. Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) and Marea (Molly Shannon) are the spiritual heads of the impoverished, disorderly convent. Massetto (Dave Franco) appears in the story as a deaf man hiding an angry Lord. The tone of the movie is a mix between Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Judd Apatow. It’s a mix of absurdity and grit that spins this story along, as well as pining women, lax spiritual leadership with an underbelly of dirty little secrets: lots of dirty little secrets!
Aubrey Plaza’s Fernanda is instigator and provocateur who provide the subversive feminist narrative while Alison Brie’s Alessandra offers a more traditional desire for marriage.Alessandra is essentially abandoned by her family, yearning for domestic life, but her father can’t manage the dowry, leaving her isolated and lonely at the convent. Kate Micucci’s Ginevra is an awkward outsider who wishes for acceptance and inclusion. John C. Reilly’s Tommasso is the mediator and convent’s flawed father figure. Molly Shannon’s Marea is a befuddled Mother Superior who is pretty disassociated from the young women in a maternal way or as authority figure. Dave Franco’s Massetto is young cut pheromone and testosterone cloud of hunky male goodness that stirs the passions of the ladies to sinful results.
After establishing the primary characters the unwinding of these wacky characters lead to witchy machination, mayhem and carnality. For those with a religious background will find this movie chaffing and sacrilegious, but the raunch factors adds some surprising laughs and authentic characterizations of human foibles and the cognitive dissonance that exist within people’s in religious belief systems. Fred Armisen’s Bishop Bartolomeo offers the necessary guiding hand, after a particularly debauched night of unrestrained passions and wickedness from the young ladies leading to a repentance scene. Bishop Bartolomeo acts as scolding and restoration agent to the nuns, who restores them to chase living, while unveiling of all the those eyebrow raising dirty secrets for more comic relief. The Little Hours is a combination of snickers and belly laughs rolled up in an irreverent sassy interpretation Medieval monastic life.