Film Review: The Party

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The Party
Dir: Sally Potter
Starring: Timothy Spall, Kristin Scott Thomas, Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz, Cherry Jones, Emily Mortimer & Cillian Murphy.
71mins | Drama, Comedy | 15

*Spoilers follow*

You all the know the premise. Friends meet up for a celebration and it all falls apart during the space of the evening. It’s a dramatic idea seen in everything from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the plays of Tennessee Williams, soap operas and from our own lives when we really are not feeling in the party mood.

Sally Potter’s new film has a claustrophobic, play like feel and even with the predictable downfall of events, still holds up as tense and often very funny visitation. At a mere 71 minutes, this film does not overstay its welcome, like a good house guest. Its charm comes from its black and white polish, which fits the film like a glove.

The acting is also world class. Kristen Scott Thomas is Janet, celebrating her appointment as the newly appointed Shadow Health Minister, her husband Bill, here played by Timothy Spall is a drunken and vacant sort, who has an important announcement to make. Thomas is in fine form, as the wife who is also up to mischief, texting someone on a secret phone hidden down her brassier. Spall, who has lost loads of weight is a sad portrays Bill as a man who looks like he has little left, since his cancer diagnosis.

The supporting cast add some real clout to the proceedings. As April, Paricia Clarkson is the cutting best friend who roasts everyone. Her hippy, soon to be ex-husband Gottfried, is delivered via a warm performance from Bruno Ganz. He has a lot of new age views to dispel, much to the dismay of barbed April, yet there is some truth in what he bangs on about. Cherry Jones is delightful Martha, who is in a so-called loving relationship with Jinny (who is pregnant with triplet boys), played by kittenish Emily Mortimer. Cillian Murphy is Tom, the upstart banker who snorts coke and is concealing a gun, only when he’s putting it into the recycling bins and deliberating about using it on someone.

The secrets that soon burst out into the night are what propels the film forward. The plot twist would not feel out of place in Tales of the Unexpected, such is it odd wrapping up of things. Although there is a mass of expectation that flounders in the film, it’s twists and turns are what keep this drama tight and telling.

Polished & perplexing.

Rating: ****

The Party is now playing at all selected cinemas.

Photo Credit: Oxwich Media Limited/ Adventure Pictures Limited

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