The Party (2017, Sally Potter)

The Party is a small private party held for political party member Kristin Scott Thomas, just appointed (elected?) minister of health – so I thought there’d be more political stuff, but if so, I missed it. The seven people onscreen represent five couples, only two of which are still – tentatively – still together at the end, with an offscreen eighth participant (it’s us! we’re implicated!) possibly about to get murdered in the final shot.

Kristin’s husband Timothy Spall acts comatose for half the film (amusingly so – he’s the most magnetic actor here, usually because he’s doing the least), finally blurts out that he’s been given a death sentence by his doctor and is leaving his wife to spend the rest of his short life with his girlfriend, the wife of Cillian Murphy, a coked-up banker who arrived with a gun to kill Spall having just found out of the affair. Emily Mortimer is pregnant with triplets, and her partner Cherry Jones seems hesitant about parenthood. Cherry also once slept with Spall (over 30 years ago, big deal). KST’s best friend Patricia Clarkson sits on the sidelines sniping at everyone, especially her soon-to-be-ex boyfriend Bruno Ganz, a weirdo “whole body healer”. And this is all… too much. Too many revelations and coincidences and big collisions for a 70-minute movie to contain without seeming overly contrived. Potter and her overqualified cinematographer Aleksei Rodionov shoot some striking black-and-white images in the intro, then there’s no time for more, since they’ve gotta run around following the actors’ mayhem. At least the actors don’t devolve into hysterics, so the thing holds up better than these things sometimes do.

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