THE PARTY — Review by Anne Brodie

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Sally Potter’s scathing social satire The Party, shot in black and white in three claustrophobic rooms is a gem, and thankfully short given the compression of nerves and tears and emotion. What may be the most unpleasant dinner party of all time brings together a perfectly presentable group of middle class English friends – a politician, artists, a banker, a professor, a realist and a healer. Continue reading…

They’re gathering to celebrate Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) who has been named Minster of Health. Her husband (Timothy Spall) announces he has a terminal disease, and he’s holding an explosive secret that has him take it out on his guests with loud, abrasive music.

Tom (Cillian Murphy) arrives and heads immediately to the loo for a toot of cocaine, a gun in his pocket. A lesbian couple (Cherry Jones and Emily Mortimer) announces they are pregnant with male triplets, and the realist (Patricia Clarkson), permanently fired with general incandescent anger, brays at her lover, a German healer (Bruno Ganz) who clearly doesn’t deserve any of it.

Big betrayals, revelations and naked emotion are ridiculous in the French farce manner; doors are a-slammin’ as these people with long histories together reap what they’ve sown. Due to space limitations, the performances are physically nimble.

Tom stands unsteadily on the kitchen table, high as a kite, trying to put out a fire, while hiding the gun in his pocket, as Kristen Scott Thomas’ ponders her husband’s impending death and sneaks quick texts to her lover, spanning vastly different emotions in a flash.

The writing, choreography and precision cinematography took a lot of planning to make everything seem natural, quite an accomplishment. Potter’s charged hour and ten minutes is bracing, highly entertaining, and deeply funny and sad.

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