Nudity, goats, and a made-up language [Tribeca ’22]


Nude Tuesday is a familiar premise that sounds like it is going to be overly reliant on a gimmick. Laura (Jackie Van Beek, who also wrote the film) and her husband Bruno (Damon Herriman) reluctantly attend a couples retreat to help their marriage. While there, an eccentric guru (Jemaine Clement) helps them to confront the past to move on to a better future.

The setup is one that has been used for decades in romantic comedies. There is the couple who have a strained relationship, a retreat with strange methods, and a mentor to add more friction. It is formulaic, but fun. Nude Tuesday takes things a step further by using a completely made-up language to tell its character driven story.

It is a big risk that pays off immediately. There are some moments where the language sticks out, but it never is the focal point of Nude Tuesday. It is no different than watching any other subtitled movie. The initial fear of the film relying on gibberish for laughs is quickly forgotten. This is a genuinely funny movie. Much like a good referee, the language is always there, but never noticed.

The comedy covers the spectrum from witty quips to visual jokes. Clement is awesome as the sexually charged Bjorg. He is as quick to make up a mean nickname for someone as he is to allow his crotch to be grabbed while he is fishing and coming up with rhymes. There is a dynamic quality to him that makes it easy to see why people are so eager to listen to what he has to say.

Along with Bjorg are a host of other oddball characters. The over the top moments add to the fun of Nude Tuesday. As things become more chaotic and the retreat races towards the titular day, the film become more tense. Though things never get anywhere near scary, there is even something of a horror vibe. The ending is as pleasantly surprising as the rest of the film.