The married life has gone stale for Laura (Jackie van Beek) and Bruno (Damon Herriman). Living with their two young daughters, the middle-aged couple are in a romantic and sexual rut, with Laura’s professional stresses complicating everything at home and Bruno’s ineffectiveness as a husband leaving him bitter and volatile. Leave it to Bruno’s free-spirited mom to present a possible fix, though: She’s sending them to a couple’s retreat meant to get a couple’s sexual urges back up and running. Reluctantly, Laura and Bruno accept the offer and check into the woodland resort overseen by an eccentric and awkwardly forward guru (Jemaine Clement).
Or at least that’s the gist of the plot, from what we can tell. The characters in the inventive and subversive Nude Tuesday speak in a totally made-up language, with their dialogue being imagined, so to speak, by English comedian Julia Davis. In a wild and audacious creative gambit, Kiwi filmmaker Armagan Ballantyne and writer/co-star van Beek have engineered a playful and delightfully odd melding of Mad-Libs-like raucousness and a fascinating look at the universality of character-first storytelling. It’s an unruly yet still heartfelt and crowd-endearing comedy whose high-wire-act execution charms with ease. —Matt Barone