Although this film has been out for a few months in the UK, it’s finally being released in Canada. I’m a fan of seeing the occasional character-driven dramas and this is the definition of a stage play turned film so here we go.
Synopsis: In Sally Potter’s new dark comedy THE PARTY, Janet is hosting an intimate gathering of friends in her London home to celebrate her political ascension, while her husband, Bill, seems preoccupied. Janet’s acerbic best friend, April arrives and others follow, some with their own dramatic news to share, but an announcement by Bill provokes a series of revelations that gradually unravel the sophisticated soiree, and a night that began with champagne may end with gunplay. (Elevation Pictures)
Starring: Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall and Patricia Clarkson
Writer: Sally Potter
Director: Sally Potter
Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 71 mins
For showtimes and more, check out The Party on movietimes.com.
Within the first few minutes of this film, Janet (Thomas) opens a door and shakily points a gun at the camera which cuts to black over a slow solemn score as the title credits roll. You can probably already tell what type of movie this will be. The story follows Janet, the newly appointed shadow minister of health, as she invites her group of closest friends over to celebrate the news. After her husband Bill (Spall) reveals some life-altering news, other secrets between the party-goers slowly start to trickle out causing the dinner party to become less than civil.
The story in turn isn’t a slow-dragging, dull, talking head drama, but instead a look into the themes of politics, love and religion. Each character has their own issues that are pushed to the surface at this party as it becomes a barbaric battle of civilized savages. The tension rises, not only between characters, but with the party itself, in an unexpected and shocking way that helps create a surprisingly real situation. That is without even mentioning the stunning amount of humour sewn into this story; it is the definition of dark comedy.
Writer-Director Sally Potter does an outstanding job setting the mood for this awkward evening of what seems like frenemies. The cinematography is nothing short of spectacular as the framing and shots help imbue the tone and immerse the audience into the awkward, narcissistic atmosphere of this dinner party. While the choice of a black and white style may be a bit odd, it could be to distract from a very boring colour palette to focus on the characters and dialogue-heavy story. In fact, the use of black and white actually accents the tone of the story blending well with the choice of music throughout the film.
Overall, The Party is a character-driven, dialogue-heavy drama supported by an A-list cast. With an immersive, emotionally-draining and thought-provoking story, sublime cinematography, a beautiful score and well-written, flawed characters, this is one party that is not worth missing. It is the best example of how to do a great talking head stage play for the screen.
Here’s our video review:
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