In and out in just minutes over an hour, The Party isn’t much more than a filmed play that came about when writer/director Sally Potter got a few of her talented friends together for a weekend (if that) to act out some decent material.
Shooting in black and white gives the semi-feature more character than it would likely have in anonymous color, though it’s mostly just a cosmetic touch and has little to do thematically with the story.
What narrative there is involves friends gathering at the home of Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) and Bill (Timothy Spall) to celebrate the former’s recent victory of the British Prime Ministerial election.
As is often the case in claustrophobic, single-location tales, secrets come out and the threat of murder looms over the proceedings, starting with the arrival of blunt American expat April (Patricia Clarkson), practically all of whose best lines are in the film’s trailer.
Last to enter is Tom (Cillian Murphy), clearly agitated as he goes straight to the restroom, starts snorting lines of cocaine and examining the pistol he’s brought, adding an element of suspense to a film that otherwise largely lacks purpose.
Rounded out by the superfluous Jinny (Emily Mortimer), Martha (Cherry Jones) and April’s partner Gottfried (Bruno Ganz) — whose sole purpose is an inspiration for her zingers — The Party exists mainly as an excuse to watch these fine actors work together.
After brooding in a chair as the guests arrive, listening to music, Bill drops a series of revelations that finally spring a few characters into action. Central to the plot or not, everyone delivers a sharp performance and provides a sufficient snapshot of these characters.
One doesn’t necessarily want to spend more time with them or see what happens next, but as an extended One Act experiment, it’s not bad.
Grade: B-minus. Rated R. Now playing at the Fine Arts Theatre
(Photo: Roadside Attractions)
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