Director Sally Potter
Cast: Kirstin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall, Patricia Clarkson, Cillian Murphy, Emily Mortimer
Writer: Sally Potter
Screening at the London Film Festival 2017 Wednesday 11th October
The Party is a film best described as a comedy of acerbic manners and political musings set at a middle class dinner one evening. The host Janet, played by Kirsten Scott Thomas has just achieved her political ambitions to become Minister of Health in the British shadow government. Her oldest friends each. been invited to celebrate with her at. cosy dinner at her old West London home. These include her best friend, acid tongued April played with fantastic relish by Patricia Clarkson with partner in tow Gotfried played by Bruno Ganz described as a aromatherapist life coach in socks. Her feminist friend Martha (Cherry Jones) with her partner Jinny played by Emily Mortimer Janet’s husband played Timothy Spall is a slightly disheveled lecturer with a secret and a wine bottle in tow. Along for the ride is Cillian Murphy’s Tom a City boy financial wizard with a drugs habit and sporting a gun!
These characters each arrive at the front door with their life history on show and a lifetimes worth if unsaid angst and vengeful secrets that come out in in opportune moments to the embarrassment of the dinner guests and the laughs if the audience. As the story unfolds we are first treated to a very morbid disclosure by Bill while in the midst of the his bombshell, smaller historical mishaps are revealed until all but Gottfried are smarten in petty old scenarios and ancient wounds evaporate though handled in a very funny way, black humour done in a very English way is superbly when well written and delivered by a top notch cast.
Potter’s ensemble cast have a fine time gnawing at technocrats limitation and their timely exposure to the whole years away from reality It is with no surprise that under the left wing intellectual musings there sits such venereal misogynistic views to one another, none more so that Clarkson’s character who drives the films along with acerbic pace as one negative put down is punctuated by another less ambivalent one to finally admit the …’she and Gottfried might not be as bad a match as she thought!’
I did enjoy the dark humour of The Party especially the opening scene of Janet brandishing a gun at here front door aiming it at the audience slow motion, setting up the unfolding story nicely and the ensemble characters in the confines of the house The scenes were shot in only four locations kitchen, living room, bathroom and the small garden a film that could easily translate to a stage production, which it felt like, and at a cool running time of just over 71 minutes there is no room for the audience to really understand the characters so as to actually dislike/like them.
There is something of a quaint Englishness about the characters dynamics, even with two of the party being American, one German and finally an Irishman, there whole denouements wrapped in that closed English resolve of responding to each crisis with a witty pun or observation. As stated earlier, this film is an abstract comedy of acerbic manners as all if the characters are exceptionally intelligent not prone to physical absentees but when forced to it becomes might uncomfortable, take the as new in which Janet strikes her husband several times, it is all the more funny as Janet reeks with gulit about striking out, only to do so again, amusing.
The film was shot in 14-days in West London, utilizing a lovely old large house with a small garden. Shot in monochrome, which I felt was a plus element as you were never distracted by the colours and shapes in all the rooms and concentrated on the actors.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film and so did the afternoon audience that I sat with, in a very packed Cinema. As the end credits rolled there was a crescendo of applause for the film and it is rightly deserved. Go and seek this little gem of a film and think about who you might invite to your dinner party!
Janet: …..”you traitor, I thought you loved me,”
N.B. I wondered if Potter had ear marked a role for the actress Tilda Swinton a sometime collaborate of Potter’s I somewhat thought would have been ideal in the cast.