Review: 'The Party,' Invitations Are Out, But It May Not Be For Everyone

Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) has just achieved a new level of political success and decided that the best way to celebrate would be to invite some close friends over for a dinner party. Of course, this group of people is arguably as dysfunctional as they come. April (Patricia Clarkson) and her boyfriend Gottfried (Bruno Ganz) are a couple clearly coming to the end of the line – which April literally tells Janet and Gottfried throughout the party. April appears to despise Gottfried and his naturalistic elements, rolling her eyes as she mentions him meditating, or dancing, or doing anything really. Then we have Martha (Cherry Jones) and Jinny (Emily Mortimer), a couple who have a large announcement of their own. They seem happy together, but there are secrets from the past that may catch up with them before the night is through. Tom (Cillian Murphy) is a wealthy wanker banker who has come to the party stag, with his wife Marianne planning on joining them later. Tom is taking advantage of her absence – doing cocaine in the bathroom and enjoying some drinks – but he too is trying to numb himself from revelations that have come up in his life. Lastly, there is Bill (Timothy Spall), Janet’s husband who has been there to support her campaign through thick and thin. Bill spends most of the party sitting in the same seat, staring off into the distance, seemingly in deep thought. He does not look like a man who is happy that all of his wife’s work for the past several years has paid off.

With its short runtime (around 70 minutes) and over-the-top characters, The Party felt like it was a British play that went straight from the stage to our black and white television screens. The entirety of the film is essentially set in one location, Bill and Janet’s flat, but Sally Potter (who wrote and directed the film) manages to successfully use this enclosed area to weave a twisted tale, entangling most characters with one another. Each group of guests has announcements that vary in importance, from the ending of relationships to pregnancies to major health concerns. Each announcement overshadows Janet, shifting the spotlight of the evening to themselves, and each announcement becomes more grandiose than the last. Some performances throughout the film do stand out, most notably those of Patricia Clarkson and Cillian Murphy, but a lot of them get lost in the absurdity. I have been to parties with dysfunctional people before, but nothing like what Potter has put together in The Party. The film has some moments that stand out, and a few humorous undertones, but nothing that really makes it stand out. However if you are looking for a quick and decently entertaining flick then The Party might just be an affair you want to find yourself invited to.

Rating: 3 out of 5