Every year, Edinburgh Film Fest brings with it a slew of off-kilter comedies and one of the anticipated ones this time around was raunchy comedy The Little Hours.

Director Jeff Baena’s latest boasts an impressive, star-studded comedic cast featuring the likes of Dave Franco, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Kate Micucci and even John C. Reilly. However, as the James Franco directed festival dud In Dubious Battle proved, a stellar cast doesn't always make a great film. Although, in the case of The Little Hours (funnily enough, starring the other Franco in the family), it does. This film is a riotous delight. From the opening scene, when we're introduced to sisters Fernanda (Plaza) and Genevra (Kate), the film offers a barrage of laughs and it doesn't stop. The film follows the idiosyncrasy of an unstable convent, and it's equally as sane sisters - the aforementioned pair, as well as Alessandra (Brie) - who find their peace at unrest when they all lust after the mysterious Massetto (Franco), who turns up to work for the nunnery, recruited by Father Tommasso (Reilly).

There's a lot of humour to be found within the esoteric situations Baena presents his characters with and it really makes for genuinely side-splitting comedy at times; the writing here is sharp and hilarious, with many gut-busting jokes and scenes sprinkled throughout. However, the strong comedic talent only anchor the comedy more and The Little Hours offers a plethora of great performances - Brie, Plaza and Milton make a remarkable lead trio, with some instant, charismatic chemistry between them, so effervescent and likable, whilst Franco and Reilly match them blow for blow, as the timid men in comparison.
The plot may seem like a pretty paint-by-numbers and predictable narrative but Baena takes the story in often off-kilter and unpredictable directions, meandering the conventions and formulaic studio stamp on these big-budget comedies. The pacing is very off the mark, however. This is a film with a very short runtime of 90 minutes, yet even then it can drag. The jokes just don't flow consistently enough throughout and, whilst the film is hilarious when the comedy does crack, the film suffers when there's a slow patch, in which either the jokes just aren't landing or either aren't being made at all. Since there isn’t much depth to these very flamboyant and larger-than-life characters who are merely sufficient and serviceable enough for the 90-minutes, these scenes of supposed 'character-building’ often drag quite a bit.

There's a lack of urgency to the proceedings too, with an irreverence for much else other than good jokes. The humour is certainly funny, definitely opting for the more low-brow plethora of slapstick gags and crude nudity and sex jokes - of which there are copious amounts of - but it works irregardless and doesn't stop The Little Hours from being quite the whimsical romp. The direction is gorgeous and it's a beautiful looking film that very much feels right at home in its medieval, mid-1300s setting. It offers us great performances, some sharp writing and slick direction. This is a raunchy, rude, crude, even often a little dark at times, comedy and it's side-splittingly funny and just ever so enjoyable. But, best of all, it's a fresh affair that feels different and better than most of the big-budget 'comedies' the infamous studio-system seem to be churning out every month in the industry.

VERDICT:
The Little Hours is a taut, off-kilter comedy that is raunchy, dark and side-splittingly hilarious with irreverence for rules and is riotously fun as a result.


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Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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