THE PARTY (71 R)
Janet hosts a party to celebrate her new promotion, but once the guests arrive it becomes clear that not everything is going to go down as smoothly as the red wine.
Director: Sally Potter
Writers: Sally Potter, Walter Donohue (story editor)
Stars: Timothy Spall, Kristin Scott Thomas, Patricia Clarkson
Closed Captioning and Descriptive Narration Available.
Any party thrown by Kristin Scott Thomas is bound to be worth attending – and with guests including Timothy Spall, Patricia Clarkson and Cillian Murphy, this is one star-studded screen soirée.
All of the performances are magnificent in this small, sharp, black-and-white farce written and directed by Sally Potter (‘Orlando’, ‘Ginger & Rosa’). Scott Thomas is a politician, Janet, who’s celebrating her appointment as Shadow Minister for Health with a few close friends and her academic husband Bill (Spall). As she busies around the kitchen, she’s getting both congratulatory calls from colleagues and flirty texts from an unknown admirer. She fails to notice that Bill is practically in a trance, knocking back the booze in the living room. Something is clearly wrong.
Each knock on the door brings fresh characters, comical complications and layers of intrigue. Most intriguing is Tom (Murphy), a coke-snorting City boy with several tricks up his sleeve, while the most amusing is undoubtedly April (Clarkson). A dry, acerbic wit barely concealing hostility towards several of her friends, she reserves her most withering put-downs for her older partner Gottfried (Bruno Ganz), a contrastingly mellow New Ager who takes whatever is thrown at him. Milder domestic disputes are stirring with pregnant Jinny (Emily Mortimer) and partner Martha (Cherry Jones).
‘The Party’ uses its single setting to claustrophobic, dramatic advantage. The dialogue is bitterly funny, even while dealing with the darkest of subject matters, touching on politics, family, fidelity and sexuality while maintaining a breezy comic tone. And amid the middle-class intellectual squabbling there’s a palpable sense of tension and danger. It’s openly theatrical, but if it feels like a film of a play, it’s a play you really should see.
– ANNA SMITH, Time Out London