Timothy Spall, Kristin Scott Thomas, Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz, Emily Mortimer, Cillian Murphy
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…intermittently very funny…
This is a curious amalgam, and only a partially successful one. On the one hand it seems to fall into the time-honoured genre of deliberately improbable and facetious British farce, while on the other it strives to be earnestly and fashionably contemporary. There’s also something of a disconnect between the crackerjack acting – by a formidably great cast – and the stereotypical nature of some of the characters. All that said, The Party is intermittently very funny, and if it’s easy to find flaws in, it’s also very easy to watch.
So, what’s it about? Well, it’s a textbook case of the kind of movie about which it’s best to know as little as possible walking in. Suffice it to say, then, that it’s a rather stagy affair, with most of the action confined to one room in which a married couple is holding a dinner party. The wife, Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas in the best performance of all), is celebrating her elevation to a ministerial government post, while her husband Bill (Timothy Spall) is contrastingly depressed for reasons that are initially unclear. They and their guests are genuinely passionate about ideas – and ideals – and yet they tend to talk in a way that seems affected and pseudo-intellectual. Just to add to the contradictions, they’re the kind of people who would pose like that, so their insincerity is – so to speak – sincere. In any case, The Party – which is in black and white, incidentally – is very much a story about relationships rather than concepts, and it would be a huge understatement to say that the plot thickens.
Don’t be put off by the short running time. The wordy, literate and densely-packed script and the ever-shifting plot lines ensure that The Party feels considerably longer than it actually is.