Nude Tuesday Review: Things Get Funny & Weird In Entertaining Comedy [Tribeca]


Nude Tuesday is incredibly entertaining and, though the central premise starts to wane after a while, the story picks back up as it nears its end.

There is a lot to like about Nude Tuesday. It’s genuinely funny, weird, and occasionally insightful. But perhaps the most interesting thing about the film — directed by Armağan Ballantyne from a screenplay by Jackie van Beek, who also stars — is that it’s entirely in gibberish. Nude Tuesday is incredibly entertaining and, though the central premise starts to wane after a while, the story picks back up as it nears its end.

Set on the fictional island of Zǿbftąņ, Nude Tuesday follows Laura (van Beek) and her husband Bruno (Damon Herriman), a hapless couple whose marriage has been stale for a long time. From the start it’s obvious there is a distance between them; Laura avoids (and is frustrated with) Bruno, while he tries too hard to keep the spark alive somehow with all the false cheer of someone being forced to look happy. Simply put, they’re miserable, their marriage functioning only because it’s more or less on autopilot. For their anniversary dinner, Bruno’s mother gifts them with a paid trip to a new-age couples retreat, led by the always horny Bjorg (Jemaine Clement). In a bid to salvage their marriage, Laura and Bruno drive up to the retreat which, despite their initial hesitance, allows them to finally face some of their issues.

Nude Tuesday is unlike most couples retreat movies, or any traditional rom-coms for that matter. There are no lovey dovey situations or moments that feel disingenuous to Laura and Bruno’s established (and prickly) relationship. What’s more, the finale doesn’t bring them back together despite conversations and realizations on both fronts, subverting expectations of a quick fix retreat that is typically meant to mend their marital issues. Hilariously, the film is subtitled, but it’s easy to follow regardless — namely, because it’s in gibberish so it doesn’t much matter, but also because the actors are so expressive in their body language and faces. Laura and Bruno’s relationship is tense and the retreat makes it simultaneously better and worse.

Bjorg’s presence only complicates matters and Clement is perfect as the sex guru. Van Beek and Herriman shine as the expressive and intensely frustrated couple, bringing the film together as they move through one wild moment to the next. All that said, Nude Tuesday drags a bit at the midway point, content to let the zany shenanigans do most of the talking. But the retreat’s unconventional methods and surprises can only go on for so long before it starts to wear on viewers. For a while, it seems like the film gets a bit stuck and the pacing is thrown off before picking back up again.

The events at the retreat do lead to a solid ending, though, one that includes the titular Nude Tuesday and all that it encompasses. Regardless of the midway slump, Ballantyne’s film is a good time. The actor’s comedic timing is great and the things they get up to are comical and absurd. Audiences will find themselves drawn into the uninhibited moments, the awkwardness Laura and Bruno feel at first before finally letting go of their own reservations and the feelings they’ve kept so close to their hearts. Ultimately, Nude Tuesday makes for an engaging, interesting film that experiments with a fake language, all while keeping the emotions of the characters as real (and silly) as possible.