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.

As Katy says, just because it has a comic premise doesn’t mean it’s a comedy. No real jokes or laughs, at least not at our house. Pretty good movie, light entertainment with better acting than anything else (writing, camera work, etc). Blends a mental-illness drama with a small-town feel-good movie. Very little conflict… two times someone makes fun of the “real girl” or tells Lars it’s just a doll, and he pretends not to hear them. Brother and brother’s wife play along, whole town and psychologist play along, finally Lars has the girl get “sick” and “die” and then he meets an actual real girl and they go for a walk.

Producer John Cameron (no Mitchell) has worked on most Coen movies since Fargo, and also Rushmore. Oscar-nom writer Nancy Oliver worked on Six Feet Under. And our director also made the Billy Bob Thornton movie Mr. Woodcock, which I’m starting to suspect is also not a comedy. Cinematographer (also did Capote and Jesus’ Son) gives us basic, uncluttered compositions and moves subtly to handheld camera whenever there’s tension in a scene.

I liked the line when someone gives flowers to “Bianca” and Lars leans over and tells her it’s nice that they’re fake because they’ll never die. But one great line does not a best-writing oscar-nom make.

Lars: Ryan Gosling from the Half-Nelson movie I didn’t see. His brother: Paul Schneider from the Assassination of Jesse James movie I didn’t see. Brother’s wife: Emily Mortimer played Rufus Sewell’s girlfriend in the worst segment of Paris je t’aime (the one at Oscar Wilde’s grave). Lars’s co-worker and living love interest: Kelli Garner from starmaker film Bully, also in The Aviator. And the psychologist: Patricia Clarkson played leads in The Pledge and Station Agent, also in Far From Heaven and Dogville.

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