Rated: R for language and drug use. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: February 16, 2018 Released by: Picturehouse Cinemas
Not without some easy and corny turns, Sally Potter's monochromatic, often close-upped The Party is mostly a quick-witted, lively dark farce, kind of a departure or diversion from the maker of Orlando and Ginger & Rosa.
The short-lived U.K. import has a broadness around politics during Brexit and a current pulse of women's rights with plenty of drollery as enmity brews at a London soiree hosted by Janet (a brittle Kristin Scott Thomas). Her dinner celebration is an intimate gathering for her promotion to 'Shadow Health Minister.' Her glum disconsolate hubby Bill (emotively catatonic Timothy Spall) waits to accommodate all of them with an announcement which puts the evening in a new light.
The nature of Potter's visual approach allows for self-absorption as a financier chum in Cillian Murphy's efficiently debonair, if apprehensive Tom who's imbuing dope in the loo while hiding a gun vindictively in his suit. An armament which is visible at the outset when Janet aims it at another of the company who's off-screen who turns out to be the last. Part of a bookending ploy which isn't quite in step with the rest of the events.
April, as evinced with spry, comedic virulence by Patricia Clarkson, is a hoot of a close friend of Janet's whose expressions and line-readings are dandy and spot-on with exasperation. Especially when concerning her confidant's fashion sense or her hubby Gottfried (Bruno Ganz, the opposite of his Fuhrer in Downfall) and his hazy chatter about destiny and unorthodox medical therapies.
For some the script by Potter may run hot and cold but it honors a bracingly frivolous mood that's in-sync with plenty of hanky-panky as the guests include a lesbian couple (Cherry Jones, Emily Mortimer) with triplets on the way with health contingencies on their mind. The Party (almost feeling like it wouldn't be out of place from another era) is finally over like the flick of a switch. But, not in the way a lithely insouciant Potter relishes in the unbefitting as when old records come on when a disabled Bill lies prostrate on the rug.